Modified: November 19, 2022

Tragedy at Texas Airshow – NTSB Pulls Up Sleeves and Begins Investigations

On November 12, 2022, a tragic accident occurred at the Wings over Dallas airshow, resulting in multiple deaths. Let’s explore the details of the incident with Ehline Law and our Texas airplane accident personal injury attorneys.

Tragedy at Wings Over Dallas Air Show When Two Historic Military Planes Collide


According to the County Medical Examiner’s office, on November 13, 2022, six people died when two antique military World war II planes, Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, a four-engine heavy bomber, and a Bell P-63 Kingcobra, an American fighter plane, collided at the Dallas Executive Airport during the Dallas airshow.

Following the collision between two vintage planes, 40 Dallas fire rescue units reached the accident site to carry out a rescue operation and extinguish the blazing fire. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the accident happened on November 12, 2022, around 1:20 PM. The Allied Pilots Association immediately identified two retired pilots, Terry Barker and Len Root, who were flying the B-17 flying fortress before it burst into flames.

The labor union representing American Airlines pilots expressed grief about the incident and offered professional counseling support at their Fort Worth headquarters for family members and friends.

Seeing the Videos of the Dallas Air Show Crash Is Heartbreaking; Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson States

Mayor of the City of Keller, Armin Mizani, immediately took his grief to Facebook, where he mentioned Terry Barker, an army veteran, and former Keller City councilman was a friend and continued his service to the community with dedication and passion even after retirement.

The United States lost another veteran, Maj. Curtis J. Rowe. He worked in several roles throughout his military career with the US Civil Air Patrol. He served as a safety officer and many other positions, most recently as an Ohio Wing maintenance officer. He also trained many cadets, flying them in planes during orientation flights.

Commemorative Air Force, responsible for maintaining vintage military aircraft, identified three more victims in their press release: Craig Hutain, Kevin “K5” Michels, and Dan Ragan.

Fortunately, no spectators or citizens suffered injuries from the devastating accident as most of the debris spread across grounds owned by the Dallas Executive Airport.

B-17 and the P-63 were rare vintage airplanes, part of the Commemorative Air Force’s collection. The B-17 is one of the 45 complete examples in the United States, of which only nine can fly. The P-63 is one of 14 examples, of which four can fly.

National Transportation Safety Board Launches an Investigation into the Dallas Air Show Accident

Initially, the Federal Aviation Administration was investigating the accident, but the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) took over once the team, including technical experts, arrived at the crash site.

Investigators Secure Frequency Recording but No Black Box on Both Aircraft

One of the critical pieces of information secured by the NTSB includes common frequency recording (verbal communication between pilots), and an investigative specialist at the government investigative agency will be processing and reviewing the data.

A member of the NTSB, Michael Graham, spoke about the incident, stating that neither of the World War II vintage planes had a “black box” onboard, which is essentially a flight data recorder. He mentioned that the investigative team recovered B-17’s electronic flight display and the P-63’s navigational unit.

Although the accident damaged both the units, the team sent it over to the NTSB recorder lab based in Washington DC where they can help determine whether it is possible to recover information from the equipment.

NTSB Recorder Lab Tries to Recover Data Before Historic Military Planes Collided; Graham States

NTSB recorder lab is a specialized unit at the government investigative agency that helps recover data from electronic equipment and avionics as the recovered data can help determine the probable cause of the incident.

According to Graham, essential data that the team is looking to recover includes GPS location, altitudes at the time of the collision, and aircraft speeds, among others.

Other evidence the investigators will look at involves analyzing aircraft maintenance records, interviewing the crews, and examining the wreckage. Before the team moved the wreckage to a secure location, the NTSB drone photographed the crash site while the investigators completed their surveys.

Wreckage of Planes Moved to Secure Facility for Further Analysis

The wreckage recovery process took two days to complete, with the first day spent recovering P-63 wreckage before it started to rain. The second day the team spent securing the B-17 wreckage and transporting it to a secure location.

In a press conference, Graham asked anyone with photos and videos of the collision to share them with the National Transportation Safety Board. The pictures and videos can help the investigative agency to analyze the accident and pair it with the recordings recovered from the aircraft control to determine how the collision occurred.

Investigations Can Help Prevent Future Accidents

Investigation into such aviation disasters is crucial to determine the probable cause of the accident and to make safety recommendations that can help prevent such accidents from happening in the future.

Commemorative Air Force Open for Safety Recommendations Following the Mysterious Accident

Hank Coates, president and Chief Executive Officer of the Commemorative Air Force, revealed that the volunteers flying the aircraft at airshows are active and retired military and airline pilots who follow a strict training process.

He mentioned that the maneuvers the two aircraft tried to perform were the “Bombers on Parade,” and it wasn’t dynamic at all, meaning the aircraft were capable of performing such maneuvers, they were well maintained, and the pilots had extensive training.

Coates reiterated that the aircraft were from the 1940s World war II era, and they did not have a flight data recorder, but if the NTSB were to recommend having them down the road, the department would consider the recommendation.

The initial accident report will be available within four to six weeks, while a full investigation report may take much longer, with experts expecting anywhere between 12 to 18 months.

Can Surviving Family Members Sue for Wrongful Death?

Before anyone can sue for wrongful death, it is crucial to investigate the incident to determine the cause. A surviving family member may be able to sue if investigations reveal serious negligence. It is important to find out why the fighter plane crashed into the B-17 Flying Fortress or if the B-17 was in the fighter plane’s path and the pilot did not see.

It is also important to understand that even if you have the right to sue, you must prove the following wrongful death negligence case elements:

  • Negligence
  • Breach
  • Causation
  • Damages.

Speaking to an experienced personal injury attorney is important to learn more about your rights and legal options.

Schedule a Free Consultation with Ehline Law

Investigation into an accident can help determine the cause and any parties liable for it. Ehline Law and our personal injury attorneys have the resources to conduct investigations into accidents to determine the liable party and hold them responsible.

If you lost a loved one in an accident due to another’s negligence, contact us at (833) LETS-SUE for a free consultation, as you may be eligible for compensation.

Top Notch American Injury Lawyer, Michael Ehline

Michael Ehline

Michael is a managing partner at the nationwide Ehline Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC. He’s an inactive Marine and became a lawyer in the California State Bar Law Office Study Program, later receiving his J.D. from UWLA School of Law. Michael has won some of the world’s largest motorcycle accident settlements.

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