Six people were killed when two military planes collided in the air during a Wings Over Dallas show Saturday afternoon at the Dallas Executive Airport.
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson called the fatal collision a “terrible tragedy” and asked for prayers.
Fox 4 News reported that those who were killed were all volunteers, including some retired pilots, veterans, and a former Keller City Council member.
Hank Coates, president of the company that held the airshow, said one of the planes, a B-17 Flying Fortress bomber, normally has a crew of four to five people, per the Associated Press. The other, a P-63 Kingcobra fighter plane, is operated by a single pilot.
Social media caught wind of the crash as several circulating videos showed the fighter plane appearing to fly into the bomber. The planes broke apart in midair after the collision, then hit the ground within seconds, before bursting into flames.
In a Saturday tweet, Johnson said the Federal Aviation Administration had taken lead on the investigation while the National Transportation Safety Board took command of the crash scene.
“The videos are heartbreaking,” Johnson said on Twitter.
The videos are heartbreaking. Please, say a prayer for the souls who took to the sky to entertain and educate our families today.
— Mayor Eric Johnson (@Johnson4Dallas) November 12, 2022
“I just stood there. I was in complete shock and disbelief,” said Anthony Montoya, 27, who attended the air show with a friend, per the Associated Press. “Everybody around was gasping. Everybody was bursting into tears. Everybody was in shock.”
Philadelphia aviation attorney Arthur Alan Wolk told the Associated Press that the P-63 pilot was in violation of the basic rule of formation flying.
“He went belly up to the leader,” Wolk said. “That prevents him from gauging distance and position. The risk of collision is very high when you cannot see who you are supposed to be in formation with and that kind of join up is not permitted.”
He added, “I am not blaming anyone and to the greatest extent possible air shows, the pilots and the aircraft that fly in them are safe.”
“Air shows are one of the largest spectator events in America and it is rare that a tragedy like this occurs.”