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Wing walker, pilot die in crash at Ohio air show

CINCINNATI — A plane carrying a wing walker crashed at an air show and exploded into flames Saturday, killing the pilot and stunt walker, authorities said.

The crash of the 450 HP Stearman happened about 12:45 p.m. at the Vectren Air Show near Dayton in front of thousands of spectators. No one else was hurt.

A video posted on WHIO-TV shows the plane turn upside-down as the performer sits on top of the wing. The plane then tilts and crashes to the ground, erupting into flames as spectators scream.

Ian Hoyt, an aviation photographer and licensed pilot from Findlay, was at the show with his girlfriend. He said he was taking photos as the plane passed by and had just raised his camera to take another shot. "Then I realized they were too low and too slow. And before I knew it, they hit the ground," he said.

He couldn't tell exactly what happened, but it appeared that the plane stalled and didn't have enough air speed, he said. He credited the pilot for steering clear of spectators and potentially saving lives.

He said he had been excited to see the show because he'd never seen the scheduled performer, wing walker Jane Wicker.

On the video, the announcer narrates as the plane glides through the sky and rolls over while the stuntwoman perches on a wing.

"Now she's still on that far side. Keep an eye on Jane. Keep an eye on Charlie. Watch this! Jane Wicker, sitting on top of the world," the announcer says, right before the plane makes a quick turn and nosedive.

Federal records show that the biplane was registered to Wicker, who lived in Loudon, Va.

One of the pilots listed on Wicker's website was named Charlie Schwenker. A post on Jane Wicker Airshows' Facebook page announced the deaths of Wicker and Schwenker and asked for prayers for their families.

The show was canceled for the rest of the day, but organizers said events would resume today. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.

Flames erupt from a plane after it crashed at the Vectren Air Show at the airport in Dayton, Ohio. The crash killed the pilot and wing walker on the plane instantly, authorities said.

Associated Press

Flames erupt from a plane after it crashed at the Vectren Air Show at the airport in Dayton, Ohio. The crash killed the pilot and wing walker on the plane instantly, authorities said.

Wing walker, pilot die in crash at Ohio air show 06/22/13 [Last modified: Sunday, June 23, 2013 12:20am]
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