NTSB Drops Data on 2022 Airshow Crash

Smoke coming from the plane crash at the Wings Over Dallas Airshow at the Dallas Executive Airport. | Image by Lisa Shaw, NBC 5 DFW

Federal officials have released nearly 1,800 pages worth of details on a fatal midair collision that took place at a Dallas airshow in 2022.

Six people — Terry Barker, Curt Rowe, Craig Hutain, Kevin Michels, Leonard Root, and Dan Ragan — were killed when a Boeing B-17 and a Bell-P 63 Kingcobra collided in midair during the Wings Over Dallas airshow at Dallas Executive Airport on November 12, 2022.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) opened the public docket for its ongoing investigation on Monday. The docket includes investigative details and reports, including transcripts of communications and interviews, photographs, evaluations, lab examinations, and much more.

A battery-powered Garmin GPSMAP 496 was recovered from the wreckage, according to the Specialist’s Factual Report from December 2, 2022, titled “Electronic Recorder Devices.” Although the device contained information on 47 other recordings between July 30, 2013, and June 19, 2014, no data from the day of the crash was found.

“All the track logs were plotted on Google Earth, and there was no track log shown in Texas, which confirmed that the event flight was not recorded on the device. It is likely that the device’s track log recording function had been inactive since 2014,” reads the report.

Among these documents was a transcript of the interview with Russell Royce, air boss of the show. The transcript revealed that Royce had not assigned an altitude constraint for fighters and bombers.

“They shouldn’t have been there. We do it all the time… it’s never a problem. I never saw the P-63 roll in,” said Royce when asked how he would ensure separations as the aircraft crossed paths, according to the transcript.

Royce also said his focus was on the entire show rather than an individual craft. When asked if he had fighters and bombers cross paths on previous occasions, Royce responded, “No … the performance characteristics need to be considered. Putting in restrictions such as an altitude assignment is not the solution.”

“It is not fair to say that adding a restriction increases safety,” said Royce, according to the document.

NTSB officials advised, however, that the docket does not contain a final report and that the cause of the incident has yet to be determined.

“The docket contains only factual information collected by NTSB investigators; it does not provide the final report or a probable cause. No conclusions about how or why the crash happened should be drawn from the information within the docket,” said the NTSB in a press release. “The NTSB will issue a final report at a later date that will include analysis, findings, recommendations, and probable cause determinations related to the accident.”

Officials with Aviation Discovery Fest decided to cancel the airshow for last year’s festival out of respect for the victims of the crash, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

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