Thursday, July 4, 2013

NTSB releases preliminary report on fatal Dayton Air Show crash

On June 22, a Boeing-Stearman airplane (tail number N450JW) impacted the ground at Dayton International Airport in Dayton, Ohio, while Jane Wicker performed a wing walking act. The pilot, Charlie Schwenker, and Wicker were both fatally injured. The airplane was destroyed.

The performance was the fourth act scheduled for the air show.

Video and photos submitted by spectators captured the airplane during the performance and accident. A review of the photography showed the airplane completed a left “tear drop” style turn, positioning to cross in front of the spectators from the left. The wing walker had positioned herself on the bottom side of the lower left wing. As the airplane approached the crowd, it rolled upside down. While flying inverted from the southeast to the northwest in front of the spectators, the airplane’s nose pitched slightly above the horizon. The airplane abruptly rolled to the right and impacted terrain in a descending left-wing-low attitude. A post impact fire ensued and consumed a majority of the right wing and forward portion of the fuselage.

The debris field from the accident was about 145 feet long, showing the left wing hitting the ground first. The impact crater was at least 13 inches deep. All flight controls were accounted for at the accident site. The wreckage was documented and transported to a secure location for further examination.

Initial statements gathered by the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration indicated that the pilot and wing walker had practiced the performance the day before the accident. Following the practice, neither the pilot nor the wing walker, reported any mechanical malfunctions or failures with the airplane.

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