(CMR) Two vintage warplanes, Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress and a Bell P-63 Kingcobra, collided in midair Saturday afternoon during the Commemorative Air Force Wings Over Dallas show at Dallas Executive Airport.
The crash happened around 1:20 p.m. while thousands were attending the airshow. Dozens of Dallas Fire-Rescue vehicles responded to the airport; however, the number of causalities was unknown as of 4:15 p.m., but no injuries were reported among people on the ground.
It was unclear how many people were aboard the aircraft, but Hank Coates, CEO of Commemorative Air Force, told Dallas News that a B-17 usually has a crew of four to five people, while a P-63 is a single-pilot aircraft.
In videos shared on social media, the P-63 was seen colliding into the back of the B-17 as it made a turn. The front of the B-17 broke off, and the plane’s wings erupted into flames as they hit the ground.
Coates said the organization has more than 180 aircraft and that the people who fly them for shows are volunteers. However, he said they are not novice pilots, with many being retired military and airline pilots.
“This is not about the aircraft — it’s just not. The aircraft are great aircraft; they’re safe, they’re very well maintained, the pilots are very well trained,” Coates said.
Dallas Fire-Rescue said debris from the collision was strewn across the airport grounds, a nearby strip mall, and Highway 67. A section of the highway in southern Dallas was closed to traffic for hours.
At the airport’s entrance, police were directing traffic and letting drivers know the facility was closed. A long line of cars could be seen exiting the airport.
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson called the crash a “terrible tragedy in our city” in a tweet, adding that many details about the incident were still unknown.
“The videos are heartbreaking. Please, say a prayer for the souls who took to the sky to entertain and educate our families today,” he wrote.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz said he and his wife were praying for the people involved.
“The images of this collision are incredibly distressing, and we pray for the safety of everyone on the scene,” he wrote on Twitter.