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‘Terrible tragedy in our city’: Planes collide during air show at Dallas airport

Nov. 12, 2022 Updated Sat., Nov. 12, 2022 at 10:13 p.m.

Damage from a mid-air collision between two planes sits within the fence line of the Dallas Executive Airport on Saturday, Nov.12, 2022, in Dallas. (Liesbeth Powers/The Dallas Morning News/TNS)  (Liesbeth Powers/The Dallas Morning News/TNS)
Damage from a mid-air collision between two planes sits within the fence line of the Dallas Executive Airport on Saturday, Nov.12, 2022, in Dallas. (Liesbeth Powers/The Dallas Morning News/TNS) (Liesbeth Powers/The Dallas Morning News/TNS)
By Jamie Landers, Isabella Volmert and Aria Jones Dallas Morning News

DALLAS – Two vintage warplanes collided in midair Saturday afternoon during the Commemorative Air Force Wings Over Dallas show at Dallas Executive Airport.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress and a Bell P-63 Kingcobra crashed about 1:20 p.m. Dozens of Dallas Fire-Rescue vehicles responded to the airport on Challenger Drive in the Red Bird area.

The Commemorative Air Force said both planes were out of Houston.

It was unclear how many people were aboard the aircraft. Jason Evans, a Dallas Fire-Rescue spokesman, said about 2 p.m. that he did not know the status of the pilots or whether any injuries were reported among people on the ground.

In videos shared on social media, the B-17 was seen colliding with a smaller plane as it made a turn. The front of the B-17 broke off, and the plane’s wings erupted into flames as they hit the ground.

An onlooker said “Oh my God!” in Spanish, and a large cloud of black smoke could be seen from the field where dozens of people were standing to watch the show overhead. In another video, a child is heard asking, “Was that supposed to happen?”

WFAA-TV reported that debris from the collision could be seen on Highway 67, and TxDOT cameras showed that a section of the highway in southern Dallas had been closed to traffic.

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson called the crash a “terrible tragedy in our city” in a tweet, adding that many details about the incident were still unknown.

“The videos are heartbreaking,” he wrote. “Please, say a prayer for the souls who took to the sky to entertain and educate our families today.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said he and his wife, Heidi, were “praying for those involved.”

“The images of this collision are incredibly distressing and we pray for the safety of everyone on the scene,” he wrote on Twitter.

Wings Over Dallas is an aircraft show hosted by the Commemorative Air Force, an organization dedicated to preserving World War II aircraft that’s based at the Red Bird airport.

Saturday was scheduled to be the second day of a three-day show held over Veterans Day weekend; Friday’s events were canceled because of inclement weather. The organization’s website showed events were also scheduled to take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

The schedule for Saturday’s events included a parade of bomber planes, including the B-17, followed by fighter escorts including the P-63.

The CAF was founded as a nonprofit group in 1961, and the weekend show was part of the CAF’s Air Power History Tour, advertised as a national tour of WWII aircraft. The tour advertises that its shows include one or both of FIFI, a Boeing B-29 Superfortress, or Diamond Lil, a B-24 Liberator – extremely rare aircraft – among a number of other planes.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate.

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