NTSB: Planes had been directed to viewing area just before collision at Dallas air show

Nathaniel Ross/AP

The pilots of two airplanes that collided during a Dallas air show in November were flying in formations and had been directed to return to the display area just before the fatal accident, according to a preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board.

Six flight crew members were killed Nov. 12 when a P-63 Kingcobra collided with a B-17 Flying Fortress at the Commemorative Air Force’s Wings Over Dallas air show.

The report did not list a cause of the mid-air collision. It could take a year or more for a final investigation.

The P-63F was No. 3 of a three-plane formation of historic fighters, while the B-17G led a five-plane formation of historic bombers, according to the four-page report released Wednesday.

According to air show radio transmissions and aircraft surveillance data, the “air boss” directed the fighters to transition to a trail formation and fly in front of the bomber formation before proceeding near the 500-foot show line, the report said. Bombers were instructed to fly down to the 1,000-foot show line. These lines represented the distance from the air show viewing line at Dallas Executive Airport.

“When the fighter formation approached the flying display area, the P-63F was in a left bank and it collided with the left side of the B-17G, just aft of the wing section,” the report said.

Both airplanes broke apart and fell on airport property south of a runway.

The five members of the B-17 flight crew were Terry Barker and Leonard “Len” Root, both of Keller; Dan Ragan, of Dallas; Curtis “Curt” Rowe, of Hilliard, Ohio; and Kevin “K5” Michels, of Austin. The P-63 was flown by Craig Hutain, who was from the Houston area.

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