The Federal Aviation Administration has opened an investigation into the stunt plane crash that took place at the Vectren Dayton Air Show in Dayton, Ohio, over the weekend. Wing walker Jane Wicker, 44, and pilot Charlie Schwenker, 64, died in the crash.
Graphic videos posted on YouTube show the plane around 12:45 p.m. turning upside-down as Wicker sits on top of the wing. The plane then tilts and crashes to the ground, erupting into flames.
Announcers at the show can be heard asking parents to turn their children away from the fiery scene and keeping the cell phone waves clear so that EMS officials can have a clear line of communication. The show was then canceled for the rest of the day.
While preliminary findings about what caused the crash are expected to come out later this week, the National Transportation and Safety Board, which has also launched an investigation, says it might take months to know whether the pilot or a mechanical problem caused the crash.
"We're not going to have any kind of determinations of findings or probable cause at this point," NTSB investigator Jason Aguilera told reporters.
The bodies of Wicker and Schwenker are set to be released to their respective families after today's autopsies and toxicology test.
Wicker, who is an FAA agency budget analyst who moonlighted as a wing-walker, was a well-known performer on the air-show circuit and one of the nation's few female wing walkers.
"There is nothing that feels more exhilarating or freer to me than the wind and sky rushing by me as the earth rolls around my head," Wicker said in a post on her website. "I'm alive up there. To soar like a bird and touch the sky puts me in a place where I feel I totally belong. It's the only thing I've done that I've never questioned, never hesitated about and always felt was my destiny."
My name is Carey Vanderborg and I'm a journalist working in New York City. I love food, travel, craft beer, live music and writing about all of the above.