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Associated Press
A plane crashes Saturday in front of the public during a performance at the Vectren Air Show in Dayton.

Pilot, stunt walker dead in plane crash

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

The crash of the 450 HP Stearman happened at around 12:45 p.m. at the Vectren Air Show near Dayton in front of thousands of horrified spectators. No one else was hurt.

A video posted on WHIO-TV shows the plane turn upside-down as the performer sits on top of the wing. The plane then tilts and crashes to the ground, erupting into flames as spectators screamed.

Ian Hoyt, an aviation photographer and licensed pilot from Findlay, was at the show with his girlfriend.

He said 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. He credited the pilot for steering clear of spectators and potentially saving lives.

“Had he drifted more, I don’t know what would have happened,” Hoyt said. Hoyt had been excited to see the show because he’d never seen the scheduled performer – wing walker Jane Wicker – in action.

On the video, the announcer narrates as the plane glides through the sky and rolls over while the Walker perches on a wing.

“Now she’s still on that far side. Keep an eye on Jane. Keep an eye on Charlie. Watch this! Jane Wicker, sitting on top of the world,” the announcer said, right before the plane makes a quick turn and nose-dive.

Federal records show that biplane was registered to Wicker, who lived in Loudon, Va.

A post on Jane Wicker Airshows’ Facebook page announced the deaths of Wicker and Schwenker and asked for prayers for their families.

Dayton International 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 declined to release their identities.

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

Thanh Tran, of Fairfield, 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.”

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