Accidents and Close Calls Discussion on accidents, close calls, and other unplanned aviation events, so we can learn from them, and be better pilots ourselves.

Dallas air show crash

Old 13th Nov 2022, 13:28
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Originally Posted by Ewan Whosearmy View Post
Believing that it was [clear], and that the bombers were clear of the runway centreline, Airboss cleared fighters to come down into the bomber block..
From the crowd-line perspective, it's understandably challenging to estimate horizontal range. But that means being careful when making those calls in Mk 1 eyeball.

Originally Posted by Ewan Whosearmy View Post
P-63 pilot did not expect traffic on the runway centreline and was looking left, into the turn, when the collision occurred.
Wouldn't you want to have sight on the bombers before you started down and accelerating?
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Old 13th Nov 2022, 13:36
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Seems indeed like a loss of SA. A dreadful accident.
For those who comment that this accident seems intentional (a few here and many on other media), I'd suggest we consider Hanlon's Razor , as explained on Model Thinker's website -"NOT MALICE, HUMANS.

Hanlon’s Razor states: never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by neglect, ignorance or incompetence. Many quotes of this model focus on ‘stupidity’, which it could be argued gives it an arrogant twist — I find the broader interpretation more useful.

When we are slighted or ignored, it’s all too easy to assume malicious intent, all the while forgetting how many times we have treated others in a similar way. In reality, people are as neglectful, distracted, tired, misunderstanding, and incompetent as us. It is rarely the case that they are malicious."


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Old 13th Nov 2022, 14:02
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In reality, people are as neglectful, distracted, tired, misunderstanding, and incompetent as us. It is rarely the case that they are malicious."
Agreed. With a very very few, terrifying exceptions, I don't expect that a pilot ever takes off with the intent to have an accident, much less cause injury nor death. It's an accident, that's why they call them that! Very sadly, this could appear to be intentional, I'm absolutely willing to believe that's the furthest from reality, it just happens to look that way.

We pilots must use our skill, and recollection of past bad events, to actively prevent to accumulation of minor errors which become a serious event. When things get busy, distracted, loss of situational awareness, I shift my mind down a gear, not up, What can I do to unload the situation at this moment? It's really tough, but sometimes it's better to abandon the maneuver, and follow a planned escape path, than to tighten the turn to try to keep up/catch up. I don't want point a finger, that doesn't help. I would like to recognize an opportunity to reduce risk; have airshows, display with pride, let the generations appreciate historical flight - with wide formations if any, and the least maneuvering needed just to make it happen. Simply flying these proud antique airplanes is all the showing off that is needed, aggressive maneuvering during the display doesn't make the showing off any better.
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Old 13th Nov 2022, 14:09
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Overtake

Using just the first images I considered that the P-63 had to have a high overtake V over the B-17, the images looked like that... and that would have placed the B-17 higher in the screen of the P-63, which would have supported the search by the pilot being towards the further forward P-51. 2's up suggested otherwise, and that needed a lower rate of closure, and the later aft aspect video shows that to have been the case. Once established in the turn the P-63 would not have had sight of the B-17 until around 0.2 of a second before impact, the accident was unavoidable once the turn had been commenced. The P-63's relative velocity to the B-17 was not a high overtake rate at all.

humble apologies.

RIP guys, sad day all round

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Old 13th Nov 2022, 14:20
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The ADSB data seems to suggest the B-17 was at around 165kts, the P-63 in Skadi's image above shows 215kts.
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Old 13th Nov 2022, 14:34
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Very sad day . I have been ATC controlling a few airshows in a past life, now organizing some and flying in them in small SEP aircraft , not high-performance warbirds, but the routine and procedures are the same for as long as I can remember (+/- 50 years ) I have also been in the TWR on OSH during the show a few times and it is basically the same as we do in Europe.

ATC is not involved in an airshow during the show itself, just clearing the airspace., and watching out for eventual intruders. During the show itself the responsibility is with a show coordinator, also called Director, or Air Boss in the US. There is an extremely strict time planning and long briefings beforehand. During the performance the frequency is clear left for coordination between the aircraft., Responsibility for separation is strictly with the pilots performing themselves.

During my experience the most ckock-ups I have witnessed in multi aircraft performances where nearly always of 3 kinds, : either an aircraft is too late and speeds up to catch and try to re-enter a formation at high speed from an unusual angle, or when a replacement pilot is taking over at last minute with little pre-show training time , ,. the last one is when one of the aircraft is not where it was supposed to be at the right time . Sometimes a combination of those.
I am not saying this is what happened here, but the speed at which the P-63 tries to rejoin the formation makes me think it is again one of those. .
The investigation will (perhaps) infirm or confirm which one it is but. flying a demo in an airshow always carries a much higher risk..
Again, a very sad. day for the airshow community,
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Old 13th Nov 2022, 14:57
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B-17 apparently being flown by retired American Airlines captains.
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Old 13th Nov 2022, 15:35
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If the "Air Boss" is talking continuously for 20 minutes then there is something VERY wrong with the plan! The plan should be such that there is little, if any, talking needed to coordinate, and that plan should be sufficiently well briefed and "walked through" to ensure everyone understands their part in it. If the successful completion of any display item requires that amount of talking then it is a bad plan.

I am also concerned, from a UK perspective, why there were 5 people on the B17? UK rules dictate that only the minimum operating crew should be aboard during any display flying. I would expect that to be 2, or at the most 3?
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Old 13th Nov 2022, 15:56
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Originally Posted by Flying_Scotsman View Post
If the "Air Boss" is talking continuously for 20 minutes then there is something VERY wrong with the plan! The plan should be such that there is little, if any, talking needed to coordinate, and that plan should be sufficiently well briefed and "walked through" to ensure everyone understands their part in it. If the successful completion of any display item requires that amount of talking then it is a bad plan.

I am also concerned, from a UK perspective, why there were 5 people on the B17? UK rules dictate that only the minimum operating crew should be aboard during any display flying. I would expect that to be 2, or at the most 3?
As a birthday treat, my husband rented B17G "Sentimental Journey" from the CAF for a ride round Arizona... they asked if it would be ok to fill the empty seats with volunteers from their museum, so the extra pax may have been volunteer staff having a jolly?
So sorry to see this .RIP guys x
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Old 13th Nov 2022, 16:01
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Originally Posted by Ewan Whosearmy View Post
Related to me by someone connected to the airshow performance:

The Airboss had briefed the fighters to stay high and bombers to stay low, with the option for the fighters to share the bomber altitude block if everything looked clear.

Believing that it was, and that the bombers were clear of the runway centreline, Airboss cleared fighters to come down into the bomber block.

P-63 pilot did not expect traffic on the runway centreline and was looking left, into the turn, when the collision occurred.

Where would the Airboss typically post himself during the air show?

And how was it he thought the bombers were clear of the runway centerline when it’s obvious from multiple video angles that it wasn’t clear?


Last edited by LowandSlow1; 14th Nov 2022 at 14:32. Reason: Completeness
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Old 13th Nov 2022, 16:14
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Here is an informed and respectful video about this tragic accident making an initial analysis on what might have happened:-

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Old 13th Nov 2022, 16:20
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Originally Posted by Ewan Whosearmy View Post
The Airboss had briefed the fighters to stay high and bombers to stay low, with the option for the fighters to share the bomber altitude block if everything looked clear.
Something I have noticed with the tightening of regulations in the UK is that aircraft groups, formations or singletons do not cross into other groups, formations, singletons flight area. They keep their separation whether it be altitude or distance.
You may have a high-altitude component that keeps within a tighter radius of the airfield with a lower component using a wider radius. As long as everyone keeps to that rule it seems to work without any conflicts.



Originally Posted by WHBM View Post
B-17 apparently being flown by retired American Airlines captains.
A lot of warbirds are flown by current or retired airline pilots. A lot of those pilots also have prior military experience.
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Old 13th Nov 2022, 17:16
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Originally Posted by WHBM View Post
In contrast, looking at shots of Dallas, this seems to have been a ragged and high speed formation
Those are my initial thoughts as well. Some of that pre-accident footage reminded me of Reno.
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Old 13th Nov 2022, 17:29
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My father and his best childhood friend both enlisted in the Army Airforce when WWII began. As may still be customary, when they graduated from flight school there was an airshow that families were allowed to attend at the base in Florida. Both men had their parents in attendance. Sadly during the flybys there was a mid air collision between 2 AT-6s and his friend and another pilot were killed in front of the crowd. My brother bears his name as a middle name. That was war time. My dad went on to be a B17 pilot and saw many more tragic mid air incidents the European theater and time as an IP. Perhaps smaller groups for fly-by display, similar performance within the grouping and I hope they de- brief with ruthlessness after any performance and that deviations result in remedial training or revocation/ suspension of privileges. If you are going to play Air Force you'd probably be wise to stick closer to how they do it.
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Old 13th Nov 2022, 18:31
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Originally Posted by WHBM View Post
B-17 apparently being flown by retired American Airlines captains.
I read that the pilot of the P63 was a Continental/United airlines pilot. I see that 5 of the 6 killed have been named online, albeit unofficially.
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Old 13th Nov 2022, 18:42
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Another video from an entirely different viewpoint of the crash, no sure how to post it here, but it is on the Twitter feed of Emile Sloan @sloan_86333. Hope that is allowed. Very graphic of course. If anyone else knows how to add this link correctly, please do. Have to say I don't see the need for Sloan's comment, but the video itself might add to our understanding of what happened, as it is a very different angle -front on.

Last edited by auldlassie; 13th Nov 2022 at 18:52. Reason: trying to add attachment, but unsuccessful
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Old 13th Nov 2022, 19:03
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Originally Posted by auldlassie View Post
Another video from an entirely different viewpoint of the crash, no sure how to post it here, but it is on the Twitter feed of Emile Sloan @sloan_86333. Hope that is allowed. Very graphic of course. If anyone else knows how to add this link correctly, please do. Have to say I don't see the need for Sloan's comment, but the video itself might add to our understanding of what happened, as it is a very different angle -front on.
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Old 13th Nov 2022, 19:21
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Most likely, this will turn out like so many reports: showing weaknesses and omissions both by individuals on Nov 12. 2022, and in how the management and direction of mass air displays have evolved over the decades. In that time, the number and variety of flying WW2 aircraft has increased, while their pilots and crews have changed. Even in the 80s, people who flew these aircraft in combat were in their 60s, fit to fly, and accounted for a good number of historic-airplane pilots.

I do recall, however, talking in the 1990s to the boss of a USAF lab at Holloman, that specialized in oxygen-related safety issues (I think it had been set up after Apollo 1) and provided outreach and help to industry and government users. He said that a common response from a company/operation that had suffered an oxygen-fire accident was "but, we've done it that way for years". To which the investigators who reviewed the incident would respond: "Well, you were lucky all this time."

I keep remembering that line today,

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Old 13th Nov 2022, 19:58
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Thank you Contact Approach!
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Old 13th Nov 2022, 20:08
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Originally Posted by Flying_Scotsman View Post
If the "Air Boss" is talking continuously for 20 minutes then there is something VERY wrong with the plan! The plan should be such that there is little, if any, talking needed to coordinate, and that plan should be sufficiently well briefed and "walked through" to ensure everyone understands their part in it. If the successful completion of any display item requires that amount of talking then it is a bad plan.

I am also concerned, from a UK perspective, why there were 5 people on the B17? UK rules dictate that only the minimum operating crew should be aboard during any display flying. I would expect that to be 2, or at the most 3?
The way they justify that minimum crew is 5, is to add "safety observers" to the crew. This has been an ongoing conversation for over 20 years. But hard to defend. The FAA has long contended that only essential personnel should be on board so this accident will have lots of consequences.
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