DALLAS — Two historic military planes collided and crashed to the ground Saturday during a Dallas air show, federal officials said, sending plumes of black smoke billowing into the sky.
According to the Dallas County Medical Examiner, six people were killed in the plane crash. Officials are still investigating the incident and working on identifying those who were deceased.
Dallas Fire-Rescue told The Dallas Morning News that there were no reported injuries among people on the ground.
Anthony Montoya saw the two planes collide.
“I just stood there. I was in complete shock and disbelief,” said Montoya, 27, who attended the air show with a friend. “Everybody around was gasping. Everybody was bursting into tears. Everybody was in shock.”
Emergency crews raced to the crash scene at the Dallas Executive Airport, about 10 miles from the city's downtown.
The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress and a Bell P-63 Kingcobra collided and crashed around 1:20 p.m., the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement. The collision occurred during the Commemorative Air Force Wings Over Dallas show.
Hank Coates, president of the company that put on the airshow, said the B-17 Flying Fortress typically has a crew of four to five people. The P-63 Kingcobra fighter plane has a single pilot.
No paying customers were on the aircraft, said Coates, of Commemorative Air Force, which also owned the planes. Their aircraft are flown by highly trained volunteers, often retired pilots, he said.
The Commemorative Air Force later confirmed in a statement that both planes had come from the Houston area:
"This afternoon, two aircraft were involved in a mid-air collision at Dallas Executive Airport. The aircraft were a B-17 Flying Fortress and P-63 Kingcobra, both out of Houston.
"Currently, we do not have information on the status of the flight crews as emergency responders are working the accident.
"The Commemorative Air Force is working with local authorities and the FAA, and the NTSB will conduct a thorough investigation into the cause of the accident.
Any available information will be posted to www.commemorativeairforce.org."
General Aviation Jet Services confirmed to KHOU 11 that the two planes had been based in Conroe, Texas, for around three years before the crash.
Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board will arrive at the scene of the crash in Dallas on Sunday.
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said the National Transportation Safety Board had taken control of the crash scene with local police and fire providing support.
“The videos are heartbreaking,” Johnson said on Twitter.
Victoria Yeager, the widow of famed Air Force test pilot Chuck Yeager and herself a pilot, was also at the show. She didn't see the collision, but did see the burning wreckage.
“It was pulverized," said Yeager, 64, who lives in Forth Worth.
"We were just hoping they had all gotten out, but we knew they didn’t,” she said of those on board.
The B-17, an immense four-engine bomber, was a cornerstone of U.S. air power during World War II. The Kingcobra, a U.S. fighter plane, was used mostly by Soviet forces during the war. Most B-17s were scrapped at the end of World War II and only a handful remain today, largely featured at museums and air shows, according to Boeing.
Several videos posted on Twitter showed the fighter plane appearing to fly into the bomber, causing them to quickly crash to the ground and setting off a large ball of fire and smoke.
“It was really horrific to see," Aubrey Anne Young, 37, of Leander. Texas, who saw the crash. Her children were inside the hangar with their father when it occurred. “I’m still trying to make sense of it."
A woman next to Young can be heard crying and screaming hysterically on a video that Young uploaded to her Facebook page.
Air show safety - particularly with older military aircraft - has been a concern for years. In 2011, 11 people were killed in Reno, Nevada, when a P-51 Mustang crashed into spectators. In 2019, a bomber crashed in Hartford, Connecticut, killing seven people. The NTSB said then that it had investigated 21 accidents since 1982 involving World War II-era bombers, resulting in 23 deaths.
Wings Over Dallas bills itself as “America’s Premier World War II Airshow,” according to a website advertising the event. The show was scheduled for Nov. 11-13, Veterans Day weekend, and guests were to see more than 40 World War II-era aircrafts. Its Saturday afternoon schedule included flying demonstrations including a “bomber parade” and “fighter escorts” featured the B-17 and P-63.
The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board were launching investigations.