2023 Air Show Canceled in Honor of Crash Victims

Crash victims
Crash victims who died in last year's plane crash. | Image by Commemorative Air Force

Festival officials have decided not to hold an air show at this year’s Aviation Discovery Fest as a mark of respect for the victims who died in last year’s plane crash.

Although the organization will be making an appearance at the Aviation Discovery Fest at Dallas Executive Airport, the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) decided earlier this year that it will not hold an air show at the festival out of respect for the loved ones of those killed in last year’s crash.

“We felt it was appropriate and out of respect for the families and friends of those lost during last year’s accident to forgo the airshow element this year,” CAF officials told WFAA.

The Wings Over Dallas Airshow at the Dallas Executive Airport on November 12, 2022, was marred by a midair collision between two vintage airplanes, a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress and a Bell-P 63 Kingcobra, resulting in the tragic loss of six lives.

Officials from the CAF confirmed the names of the perished pilots and crewmembers as Terry Barker of Keller, Leonard “Len” Root of Fort Worth, Craig Hutain of Montgomery, Kevin “K5” Michels of Austin, Dan Ragan of Dallas, and Curt Rowe of Hilliard, Ohio, according to the CAF webpage.

Witnesses of the 2022 event saw the planes circling the sky before crashing and exploding in a fireball, as reported by The Dallas Express at the time.

The Federal Aviation Administration has since released the audio recording from the event of the air boss, pilots, and tower, per the CAF.

The National Transportation Safety Board published a preliminary report for the accident, stating that it remains unclear what caused the crash. However, the report indicates that the aircraft should have maintained a lateral separation distance of at least 500 feet, as reported by CBS News Texas. The full report will be released in the next 12-18 months.

On October 10, 2023, a monument dedicated to the Commemorative Air Force B-17 “Texas Raiders” was erected at Montgomery County Veteran’s Memorial Park in Conroe. The monument serves as a tribute to six Commemorative Air Force members and the B-17 bomber and P-63 King Cobra that were lost in the air crash accident, according to Montgomery County Courier.

The dedication ceremony at the Montgomery County Veterans Memorial Park drew over 1,200 attendees, with numerous individuals also watching the proceedings through an online livestream.

This year’s Aviation Discovery Fest runs from November 10-12 in Dallas. Those who wish to attend can tour cockpits of a B-24 Liberator, C-47 Skytrain, C-45 Expeditor, and more, as well as participate in the Aviation Discovery Zone, D-Day C-47 cockpit tours, and enjoy many aircraft spotlights along with a classic car show.

Tickets are currently on sale on the event’s website.

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