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Wing walker Jane Wicker, pilot die in crash at Ohio air show

  • Flames erupt from a plane after it crashed at the Vectren Air Show at the airport in Dayton, Ohio. The crash killed the pilot and stunt walker on the plane instantly, authorities said. (AP Photo/Dayton Daily News, Ty Greenlees)

    Flames erupt from a plane after it crashed at the Vectren Air Show at the airport in Dayton, Ohio. The crash killed the pilot and stunt walker on the plane instantly, authorities said. (AP Photo/Dayton Daily News, Ty Greenlees)

  • Flames erupt from a plane after it crashed at the Vectren Air Show at the airport in Dayton, Ohio. The crash killed the pilot and stunt walker on the plane instantly, authorities said. (AP Photo/Dayton Daily News, Ty Greenlees)

    Flames erupt from a plane after it crashed at the Vectren Air Show at the airport in Dayton, Ohio. The crash killed the pilot and stunt walker on the plane instantly, authorities said. (AP Photo/Dayton Daily News, Ty Greenlees)

  • Flames erupt from a plane after it crashed at the Vectren Air Show at the airport in Dayton, Ohio. The crash killed the pilot and stunt walker on the plane instantly, authorities said. (AP Photo/Dayton Daily News, Ty Greenlees)
  • Flames erupt from a plane after it crashed at the Vectren Air Show at the airport in Dayton, Ohio. The crash killed the pilot and stunt walker on the plane instantly, authorities said. (AP Photo/Dayton Daily News, Ty Greenlees)

A plane carrying a wing walker crashed at an air show and exploded into flames yesterday, killing the pilot and stunt walker instantly, authorities said.

The crash of the 450 HP Stearman happened about 12:45 p.m. at the Vectren Air Show at Ohio’s Dayton International Airport. No spectators were hurt.

A video posted on WHIO-TV showed the plane turn upside-down as the performer sat on top of the wing. The plane then tilted and crashed to the ground, erupting into flames as spectators screamed.

Ian Hoyt, an aviation photographer and licensed pilot from Findlay, Ohio, 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.

“I’m still shaking,” 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.

Federal records show that the biplane was registered to Wicker, who lived in Loudon, Va. A man who answered the phone at a number listed for Wicker on her website said he had no comment and hung up.

One of the pilots listed on Wicker’s website was named Charlie Schwenker. A post on Jane Wicker Airshows’ Facebook page announced the deaths of Wicker and Schwenker and asked for prayers for their families.

A message left at a phone listing for a Charles Schwenker in Oakton, Va., wasn’t immediately returned.

Airport spokeswoman Linda Hughes and Ohio State Highway Patrol Lt. Anne Ralston confirmed that a pilot and stunt walker had died but declined to give their names. The air show also said it wouldn’t immediately release their identities.

The show was canceled for the rest of the day, but organizers said events would resume today and follow the previous schedule and normal operations. The National Transportation Safety Board said it is investigating the crash.

Another spectator, Shawn Warwick of New Knoxville, Ohio, told the Dayton Daily News that he was watching the flight through binoculars.

“I noticed it was upside-down really close to the ground. She was sitting on the bottom of the plane,” he said. “I saw it just go right into the ground and explode.”

Than Tran, of Fairfield, Ohio, said he could see a look of concern on the wing walker’s face just before the plane went down.

“She looked very scared,” he said. “Then the airplane crashed on the ground. After that, it was terrible, man . . . very terrible.”

Wicker’s website said 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. She was a contract employee who worked as a Federal Aviation Administration budget analyst, the FAA said.

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