Two World War II planes collide mid-air in Dallas, United States, during an aviation day.
While the number of victims is not yet certain, according to the occupancy of the two planes, up to six people are feared dead.
The two aircraft that collided are a B-17 Flying Fortress bomber and a P-63 Kingcobra fighter. Officials did not say how many people were on board the planes, but Hank Coates, president of the company that organized the airshow, said the B-17 typically has a crew of four to five people and the P-63 has one pilot.
Upon impact, both planes exploded into a ball of flames, sending black smoke billowing into the sky. Footage of the collision appeared on the Internet from multiple angles.
Emergency crews rushed to the crash site at Dallas Executive Airport, about 10 miles from downtown. News footage from the scene showed crumpled aircraft wreckage on a grassy area inside the airport perimeter. Dallas Fire-Rescue told The Dallas Morning News that no injuries were reported among people on the ground.
There were no paying customers on the plane, said Coates of the Commemorative Air Force, which also owned the planes. Their planes are piloted by highly trained volunteers, often retired pilots, he said.
A team of National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators will arrive at the crash site on Sunday.
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said the NTSB had taken control of the crash site, with local police and firefighters providing support.
“The videos are heartbreaking,” Johnson said on Twitter.
The planes collided and crashed around 1:20 p.m., the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said in a statement. The crash occurred during the Commemorative Air Force Wings Over Dallas show.
Also at the show was Victoria Yeager, widow of famed Air Force test pilot Chuck Yeager and a pilot herself. She didn’t see the crash, but she did see the burning wreckage.
She said: “It was crushing. We were just hoping everyone got out but we knew they didn’t.”
The cornerstone of the US Air Force during World War II, the B-17 is a huge four-engine bomber used in daylight raids against Germany. The Kingcobra, an American fighter aircraft, was used mainly by Soviet forces during the war. Most B-17s were scrapped at the end of World War II, and only a handful remain today, largely on display in museums and air shows, according to Boeing.
Several videos posted on social media showed a fighter jet slamming into the bomber, causing it to quickly crash to the ground and creating a large ball of fire and smoke. In the videos, no one appeared to parachute out before the planes crashed to the ground.
“It was really horrible to see,” Aubrey Anne Young, 37, of Leander. Texas that saw the crash. Her children were in the hangar with their father when it happened. “I’m still trying to make sense of it.
In a video Young uploaded to her Facebook page, a woman can be heard screaming and shouting hysterically next to Young.
The safety of air shows – especially with older military aircraft – has been a concern for years. In 2011, 11 people were killed in Reno, Nevada, when a P-51 Mustang crashed into spectators. In 2019, a suicide bomber crashed in Hartford, Connecticut, killing seven people. The NTSB said at the time that since 1982 it had investigated 21 World War II-era bomber accidents that claimed 23 lives.
Wings Over Dallas bills itself as “America’s Premiere World War II Airshow,” according to the website advertising the event. The show was scheduled for November 11-13, the weekend of Veterans Day, and guests were expected to see more than 40 aircraft from the World War II era. Its Saturday afternoon flight display program included a “bomber parade” and a “fighter escort” featuring B-17s and P-63s.
Videos from previous Wings Over Dallas events feature vintage warplanes flying low, sometimes in tight formation, on simulated strafing or bombing runs. The videos also show planes performing aerobatic stunts.