The men who died, all of whom had significant experience in aviation, were identified as Terry Barker, Craig Hutain, Kevin “K5″ Michels, Dan Ragan, Leonard “Len” Root, and Curt Rowe. They died on Saturday when a World War II-era bomber and a fighter plane collided, sending a ball of flames and debris hurtling toward the ground as spectators gathered for the air show.
The two planes, a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress and a Bell P-63 Kingcobra, were participating in the Air Force’s Wings Over Dallas air show when they collided near the Dallas Executive Airport just before 1:30 p.m. local time on Saturday.
National Transportation Safety Board member Michael Graham told reporters on Sunday that neither plane had flight data recorders, commonly referred to as black boxes, and as a result, the NTSB will rely in part on photos and videos recorded at the scene.
“This is not their first rodeo,” Henry “Hank” Coates, the CEO of the Commemorative Air Force, said at a press conference. “These guys are very well versed. Many of them are airline pilots, retired airline pilots, retired military pilots like myself. These are very well-trained folks who have been doing this for a long time.”
Officials have not said publicly who was flying each aircraft.
Hutain, a Texas native, had been a commercial airline pilot since 1985 and had logged more than 34,500 flight hours, while Barker was an Army veteran who flew helicopters during his military service before working for American Airlines for more than three decades, according to the Associated Press.
Rowe, a member of the Ohio Wing Civil Air Patrol, did several air shows a year, his brother-in-law Andy Keller said, while Root was a pilot and manager for the Gulf Coast Wing of the Commemorative Air Force.
Rain had hampered investigators’ ability to collect pieces of debris from the B-17 bomber, Graham said, adding, “We’ll look at everything that we can, and we’ll let the evidence basically lead us to the appropriate conclusions. At this point, we will not speculate.”
The Commemorative Air Force said in a statement, “We are heartbroken to announce that the following members of the Commemorative Air Force went west on Saturday, November 12, 2022, at the Wings Over Dallas WWII Airshow while performing. Please join us in mourning the loss of our good friends and fellow airmen.”