— NewsBreaker (@NewsBreaker) June 22, 2013
A renowned wingwalker and aviator, Jane Wicker, was killed today in an horrific stunt-plane crash at an air show in Dayton, Ohio. The crash is also believed to have claimed the life of her pilot who has been named as Charlie Schwenker. The tragic accident occurred on Saturday afternoon just before 1:00 p.m. EST at the Dayton Air Show. Wicker was performing her famed act as the third performer at the 39th Vectren Dayton Air Show.
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Here’s what you need to know…
1. Wicker’s Plane Was Flying Low to the Ground When the Crash Happened
WARNING!!!! VERY GRAPHIC CRASH FOOTAGE
WARNING!!!! VERY GRAPHIC CRASH FOOTAGE
Witnesses have reported that the plane’s wing “clipped” the ground. Wicker was atop a 450 HP Stearman named Aurora when this horrific accident occurred.
— Jessica Heffner (@JessHeffnerWHIO) June 22, 2013
Lt. Mark Nichols told WHIO:
My understanding is there was nothing (emergency responders) could do for the victims of the crash.
Director of Aviation for the city of Dayton Terrence Slaybaugh also told WHIO:
Obviously this is a tragedy for what is a very small community. Right now there is no conclusive answer about why the accident happened.
2. Wicker’s Was Engaged to One of Her “Team Members”
Wicker told an interviewer on Friday that she intended to get married “on the wing of a plane.”
We've learned the couple had planned to exchange vows on Wicker's plane while it was in flight at an air show in 2014. Just tragic.
— John Bedell (@JohnBedellWHIO) June 22, 2013
A passage on the couple’s wedding page reads:
Their story has just begun and a lifetime of adventure is in store for this couple. Being that Aurora and airshows are not only responsible for introducing the two but such an important part of their lives, they could think of no better way than to celebrate their union on the wing of this incredible plane at an airshow in 2014. Their story is unique, their life is incredible and the future looks loftier every day.
The above picture on Wicker’s Facebook page was accompanied by the following comments:
Though it has since been confirmed that Skowbo was NOT the pilot during today’s tragedy.
3. Wicker Told an Interviewer on Friday That She Wingwalked “For Fun”
She told WTDN on Friday:
I don’t do it for the money…I do it for the fun.
Later she said:
I’m never nervous or scared because I know if I do everything as I usually do, everything’s going to be just fine.
In addition, Wicker was on the front page of the Dayton City Paper this morning:
Made the front page of the Dayton City Paper. pic.twitter.com/GJAn6lJoz9
— Jane Wicker Airshows (@wingwalking) June 21, 2013
Wicker's website says she responded to a classified ad from the Flying Circus Airshow in Bealeton, Va., in 1990, for a wing-walking position, thinking it would be fun. Her full-time job was as a budget analyst for the Federal Aviation Administration, according to her website.
On top of her daredevil antics, Wicker worked as a a budget analyst for the FAA, a freelance writer, and had just completed a degree studying in finance.
4. The Accident Was Described as a "Fireball"
— Emergenza24 (@Emergenza24) June 22, 2013
The show MC was heard telling people to get as far away from the crash as possible.
Stan Thayer who witnessed the event told the Dayton Daily News:
All of a sudden I heard screaming and looked up and there was a fire ball.
Shawn Warwick who was also there, said:
I noticed it was upside down really close to the ground. She was sitting on the bottom of the plane, I saw it just go right into the ground and explode.
Vandalia City Councilman Dave Gerhard told WHIO:
It seemed like everything was just routine, It was flying upside down. I just nose-dived into the ground. Quick as you can blink your eye there was an explosion. It was a nose dive. Boom. Big Explosion.
5. The Dayton Air Show Will Continue Tomorrow
The Dayton Air Show has been canceled for Saturday, the show will go ahead as planned tomorrow.
The Dayton show endured a similar-tragedy in 2007 when stunt pilot Jim LeRoy was killed.
The show is one of the country's oldest, with crowds usually reaching 70,000 as well as generating over $3 million dollars for the local economy. Like many other events, due to budget cuts, there are no military aircraft on display this year, organizers believe this will affect the attendance.