Ohio Airshow Resumes After Stuntwoman, Pilot Die

By: CBS News, Posted by Chelsey Moran
By: CBS News, Posted by Chelsey Moran

CINCINNATI Spectators have returned to an air show in southwestern Ohio a day after a pilot and wing walker were killed in a horrifying crash that was captured on video.

Gates at the Vectren Air Show near Dayton opened Sunday morning, with the day's events set to begin with a moment of silence to honor pilot Charlie Schwenker and wing walker Jane Wicker.

The two were killed Saturday when the plane crashed suddenly in front of spectators who screamed in shock as the aircraft quickly was engulfed in flames. No one else was hurt.

The show was canceled for the rest of the day but reopened Sunday.

The cause of the crash is unclear and the conclusion of an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board likely will take months.

A video from CBS Dayton affiliate WHIO-TV shows the plane turn upside-down as the performer sits on top of the wing. The plane then tilts and crashes to the ground, exploding into flames as spectators screamed.

"All of a sudden I heard screaming and looked up and there was a fireball," Stan Thayer of Wilmington, Ohio, told WHIO-TV.

Shawn Warwick of New Knoxville said he was watching the plane through binoculars.

"I noticed it was upside-down really close to the ground; she was sitting on the bottom of the plane," Warwick told WHIO-TV. "I saw it just go right into the ground and explode."

His wife was getting a drink when the crash happened.

"I came back, and everybody was just in shock," Cara Warwick told the affiliate.

Ian Hoyt, an aviation photographer and licensed pilot from Findlay, was at the show with his girlfriend. He told The Associated Press he was taking photos as the plane passed by and had just raised his camera to take another shot.

"Then I realized they were too low and too slow. And before I knew it, they hit the ground," he said.

He couldn't tell exactly what happened, but it appeared that the plane stalled and didn't have enough air speed, he said. He credited the pilot for steering clear of spectators and potentially saving lives.

"Had he drifted more, I don't know what would have happened," Hoyt said. He said he had been excited to see the show because he'd never seen the scheduled performer -- wing walker Jane Wicker -- in action.

In 2011, wing walker Todd Green fell 200 feet to his death at an air show in Michigan while performing a stunt in which he grabbed the skid of a helicopter.

In 2007, veteran stunt pilot Jim LeRoy was killed at the Dayton show when his biplane slammed into the runway while performing loop-to-loops and caught fire.

Organizers were presenting a trimmed-down show and expected smaller crowds at Dayton after the Air Force Thunderbirds and other military participants pulled out this year because of federal budget cuts.

The air show, one of the country's oldest, usually draws around 70,000 people and has a $3.2 million impact on the local economy. Without military aircraft and support, the show expected attendance to be off 30 percent or more.

© 2013 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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