NTSB: Pilot, stuntwoman practiced before Ohio fall

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) - A wing walker and aerobatic pilot killed in a fiery crash at an Ohio air show practiced their performance the previous day and reported no mechanical problems with the plane, according to preliminary report released Thursday by federal investigators.

Thousands of horrified spectators witnessed the June 22 crash and explosion at the Vectren Air Show near Dayton. The plane was turned upside-down and positioned to cross in front of the crowd when the nose pitched slightly and the aircraft abruptly rolled and struck ground, according to the accident report from the National Transportation Safety Board.

The crash, captured on video and in photos by, left a debris field 145 feet long, according the report.

The preliminary report does not address the cause of the crash. The safety board is expected to take months to issue a final report.

The preliminary report was based on information including spectators' videos and photos and initial statements collected by federal investigators. Those statements indicated no mechanical malfunctions were reported after the June 21 practice session by the pilot and the wing walker, the report said.

Some witnesses said they knew something was amiss because the plane was flying too low and slow.

Fairfield resident Thanh Tran said he saw a look of concern on the wing walker's face just before the impact.

"She looked very scared," he said. "Then the airplane crashed on the ground."

Federal Aviation Administration records showed clean safety records for the 64-year-old pilot, Charlie Schwenker of Oakton, Va., and 44-year-old performer Jane Wicker, of Bristow, Va.

Wicker was the third wing walker to die in two years. She was a mother of two teenage boys and was recently engaged to a pilot whom she planned to marry atop a plane.

Schwenker's wife of nine years described him as an exacting pilot who took no unmeasured risks.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Top Stories

  • Does This Make Sense?
    Jason Rantz questions Inslee's plan to fund transportation with carbon pollution tax

  • Big Release
    Michael Medved takes a look at whether the latest Hobbit film is worth your interest

  • Holiday Map
    Find holiday events, Santa photo opportunities, and light displays
ATTENTION COMMENTERS: We've changed our comments, but want to keep you in the conversation.
Please login below with your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Disqus account. Existing MyNorthwest account holders will need to create a new Disqus account or use one of the social logins provided below. Thank you.
comments powered by Disqus
Sign up for breaking news e-mail alerts from MyNorthwest.com
In the community
Do you know an exceptional citizen who has impacted and inspired others?
KIRO Radio and WSECU would like to recognize six oustanding citizens this year. Nominate them to be recognized and to receive a $2,000 charitable grant.