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Dallas air show crash

Old 13th Nov 2022, 20:12
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Originally Posted by Bobby G View Post
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.
Does it matter who is on board providing they are not fare paying passengers and understand the risks? It almost makes the essential crew sound expendable.
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Old 13th Nov 2022, 20:24
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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 the minimum crew of 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.
How it works is that this is essentially several airshows in one. The briefing determines a group of trainers, fighters, bombers and cargos. Each of these groups flies pre-determined patterns. For instance, the bombers make left hand patterns with 400ft passes down the runway centerline while the fighters fly opposite passes down the left side of the runway in left hand patterns at 200 ft. While it looks like total mayhem, those are two shows in one. Although the separation is minimal, it is there. While the show is ongoing, pilots will make mistakes or patterns need to be readjusted and this is where the air boss comes in. There are contingency plans in case something goes haywire and airplanes miss passes or screw up patterns. Then they get sent away to a predetermined visual point on the ground at a certain altitude until things are sorted out and the air boss calls them in again. In this case, obviously someone was in the wrong place at the wrong time and coordination was lost before the air boss could correct it, or the pilot was not following his directions. As crazy as it may seem, that dark colored B17 is very hard to see when it is flying slightly below the horizon. From the airshow's point of view, they well know how this came about as one of the two airplanes was out of position.
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Old 13th Nov 2022, 20:34
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Originally Posted by uxb99 View Post
Does it matter who is on board providing they are not fare paying passengers and understand the risks? It almost makes the essential crew sound expendable.
Yes it does matter. The crew has been assigned way before the airshow and through the hierarchy within the wing it is determined which qualified person will be a flight engineer or observer. Even though the airplane did not originally have a flight engineer, it is customary for a crew chief to act as one. That person will be on the jumpseat and help out with power settings and keeps an eye mainly on engine gauges since the pilots will be VERY busy with their eyes outside the cockpit and verifying instructions from the air boss with each other. There will be many people within the wing chomping at the bit to be on the airplane during the show. They can be a loadmaster or another crew member normally assigned to this B-17. Absolutely NO paying passengers, you must have proper credentials.
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Old 13th Nov 2022, 20:47
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Originally Posted by Bobby G View Post
For instance, the bombers make left hand patterns with 400ft passes down the runway centerline while the fighters fly opposite passes down the left side of the runway in left hand patterns at 200 ft. While it looks like total mayhem, those are two shows in one. Although the separation is minimal, it is there.
I believe that's sort of how the Spitfire tail chases at Duxford work - the Merlin Spits (think I've seen as many as 7 or 8) fly along the the display line (slightly to the north of the hard runway?) and pull up into tear drops at either end to the north of the display line and behind the shoulder of the crowd so to speak. Meanwhile the Griffon Spits have their own display line perhaps 500' to the south of the runway and do their tear drops to the south. It looks and sounds fantastic and probably rather more "in yer face" than it actually is. Got a vague recollection of seeing one pilot roll gently outwards at the apex of the tear drop, presumably having lost sight of the one ahead, and then carefully rejoin behind the tail end Charlie... I do get a bit uncomfortable seeing low-level loops by warbirds these days!
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Old 13th Nov 2022, 20:48
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First off, let me apologize for my earlier post where I said:
That almost looks intentional!
Some here have taken that as an accusation that perhaps it was intentional - that was in no way my intent. Rather, a simple observation that it wouldn't have looked much different if it had been a kamikaze ramming attack.
I have great memories of the Commemorative AF - going back to when it was called the Confederate Air Force (before that name became politically unacceptable). I attended a CAF show in Colorado Springs commemorating the US bicentennial on the 4th of July 1976. Went with my parents (both WWII vets - it took about two seconds to talk my dad into our going). I was in college at the time and did some writing for a college magazine - I showed them my "Press Pass" and they treated me to all the perks of a proper press reporter .
I've been a regular supporter of the CAF ever since.
My heart goes out to those impacted by this tragedy. While safety lessons can certainly be learned from this accident - I also hope and pray that it won't adversely impact the good work that the CAF and other similar groups do by displaying these classic warbirds to educate the public.
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Old 13th Nov 2022, 21:25
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Originally Posted by whitefriars View Post
Very sad. I see it happened at Dallas Executive airport, or Redbird, as I fondly remember it. Learn’t to fly there in 1980.
Yes, I flew Grumman Cheetah's out of there.

To be honest, I know that CAF is now based there but it does have roads and some city around. I saw a major airshow at Alliance Airport in nearby Fort Worth a few years ago. It has huge open space which makes me wonder if it would be a little more appropriate if these kinds of maneuvers are being done. A high speed collision like this can result in debris falling quite far away.

Last edited by punkalouver; 13th Nov 2022 at 21:40.
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Old 13th Nov 2022, 22:12
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Fellow photographer has posted some high detail shots of the crash sequence on another forum.
I'll just leave the link, DP Review thread.
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Old 13th Nov 2022, 22:31
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This is so tragic,
I flew a T-38 Nav trip to Ellington Field in 1987. We parked the jet right next to the “Texas Raider”. As we climbed out of the jet, 5 elderly gentlemen, wearing WWII Veteran hats, greeted us, and asked if they could look at our jet. We gave them a tour, and then they offered us a tour of their B-17 “Texas Raider” they opened the door and let us wander inside to our hearts content. They even let me climb on the wing and snap this photo! RIP.
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Old 13th Nov 2022, 23:02
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Originally Posted by SnowFella View Post
Fellow photographer has posted some high detail shots of the crash sequence on another forum.
I'll just leave the link, DP Review thread.
Looking at those images I doubt many survived the impact let alone the inevitable crash. If there ever was a word to describe that collision devastating would be it.
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Old 13th Nov 2022, 23:22
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FLARM vs ADS-B

There's been a litany of recent midairs with at least one aircraft ADS-B equipped. And yes, there's been midairs between FLARM equipped aircraft where one FLARM was inop.

When it's properly installed and working in both aircraft FLARM does the job very well. With ADS-B becoming more common, I see more low level aircraft on my FLARM and I'm more than happy to get out of their way even if I can't reach them on radio.

While many assert that a proper lookout will keep you safe, I look upon FLARM as a backup against human imperfection. It really does see better than I do. Atmospheric conditions, background and sun glare can do an excellent job of hiding aircraft even if you know where to look.
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Old 14th Nov 2022, 00:40
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Sally B displays with three crew, two pilots and FE. Other members of the team can ride but never during a display.
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Old 14th Nov 2022, 01:51
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Visual Contact

around 8 seconds to 3 seconds before impact the B-17 would have been visible at around 30-40degrees right of the nose of the P-63, which is about the time the pilot is setting up his turn to the left. At 3 seconds or so before impact the P-63 rolls into a left bank and the B-17 is obscured from that point until just before impact. The left wing tip of the B-17 would have come into view immediately before impact, far too late to avoid the collision. The video doesn't readily show what the P-63 would be seeing before the 8 second point before impact, there will be video out there, it just hasn't surfaced as yet.

The low differential in speed increases the angular scan region required to clear for traffic, a lookout to around 70 degrees off the nose would be required to visually clear this traffic just on the relative speeds. The traffic that the P-63 was following was off in the opposite direction to the proximate traffic, left of the nose, around 10-11, vs the B-17 at 1-1:30 or so relative clock position.



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Old 14th Nov 2022, 02:40
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A pilot who flew the aircraft commented in a Y'tube video that the visibility from the cockpit is not the greatest, a lot of blanking windscreen structure, part of the Swiss cheese?
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Old 14th Nov 2022, 03:28
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The low differential in speed increases the angular scan region required to clear for traffic, a lookout to around 70 degrees off the nose would be required to visually clear this traffic just on the relative speeds. The traffic that the P-63 was following was off in the opposite direction to the proximate traffic, left of the nose, around 10-11, vs the B-17 at 1-1:30 or so relative clock position
Is perhaps factual. If I were reading this analysis in the report of an actual air combat, or maybe really advanced combat training accident, it might have traction with me. However, this loss of situational awareness occurred during what should be professional, very low performance pressure display flying. I opine that what should have happened would be that the P-63 pilot recognized a loss of traffic awareness, combined with zero pressure to complete a form up, and followed a pre-planned escape path away from all the other airplanes.

Reasoning of an outcome is not the same depending upon what the objective of the maneuver was to begin with. Objective: To entertain aviation enthusiasts and display vintage airplanes - no pressure to complete - Risk tolerance = very low.
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Old 14th Nov 2022, 06:02
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I have flown in air shows and been through a bevy of briefings. The fighters were in a simple tail chase left hand orbit pattern. The "parade pass" has a hard deck and you just chase the guy in front of you. It is a bit harder with disparate aircraft, but possible if you recognize this and just give a bit longer before you pull after the pass to set up more space on the downwind. The bombers were in a straight parade and they just tail chase and lumber through. Separation is both horizontal and vertical usually, and as others have mentioned here, the runway is the divider that is simplest to use. Horizontal spacing is briefed and set up so orbits don't cross thru the others altitudes. The P-63 wasn't joining up on the B-17. He was supposed to chase the Mustang in front of him around the pattern while the bombers flew a line astern pass down the flight line.

I have looked at the footage and the bombers were coming in from airshow left and a bit angled in to the runway as the B-17 had to bank left to begin his parade pass. I think this puts him almost directly over the runway and "cuts the corner" and doesn't leave any room for the fighters to leak out of their area. The P-63 is in a tail chase with a P-51 and it looks like he is more than eating him up. The only place the -63 has to go to get spacing is to widen out and it looks like he is doing that when he impacts the -17. His eyes would be locked on the Mustang especially if he was eating him up and trying to make some space. I would agree he never saw the -17 coming.

Who is to blame if the above is correct? The -63 has the responsibility to space off the guy in front of him and managing his speed and spacing. We have all chased someone on final and cursed at them for slowing, but ultimately we are responsible for the spacing. If he hadn't eaten up the guy in front of him he wouldn't have widened out. I haven't seen footage of the fighters making earlier passes, but he may have been using the widening out on the parade pass to help manage spacing for a couple of circuits. Regardless, one should space somewhere besides the parade pass and he should not have been pulling out of his dive to the flightline to make his pass so close to the Mustang.

The -17 also was possibly out of position given the late left turn to line up to the air show line and the crash happening almost directly over the runway which was likely the divider for the two groups. This is a bit harder to discern, but given the late turn I think they were supposed to be lined up farther from airshow center and may have entered the "buffer" area over the runway.

Last is the Air Boss and the briefing and planning of the flight. The setup of the bomber passes crossing through the fighter altitudes is questionable. There were a lot of moving parts here with each fighter doing his thing. I don't like this many airplanes freelancing at the same time, let alone having the bombers pass through the vertical profile of the fighters.

My heart goes out to those that perished. I have flown a lot of air shows and sadly crashes like this happen. We need to brief like we plan and fly like we brief. Lesson can and should be learned from this.

Last edited by Ugly Jet Captain; 14th Nov 2022 at 06:25.
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Old 14th Nov 2022, 07:28
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Originally Posted by megan View Post
A pilot who flew the aircraft commented in a Y'tube video that the visibility from the cockpit is not the greatest, a lot of blanking windscreen structure, part of the Swiss cheese?
Not sure they guy had flown the aircraft, as the visibility is actually darn good in the required area. The pilot is above and forward of the wing leading edge, the B-17 would have been down low towards the sill but forward of the wing LE. A P-51 or P-40 etc would have hidden the B-17 once the turn started, and in some angles even at wings level where the B-17 was slightly lower.

That it was possible to see the B-17 doesn't mean that it was certain it would be sighted, the primary focus shortly before the turn was to the left, and then in the turn, left and upwards, which is a long way from the B-17's location in the viewable area.

lateral separation with a large turn angle is not reliable as a deconfliction, altitude would have been helpful.
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Old 14th Nov 2022, 07:58
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Originally Posted by Flying Binghi View Post
Looks to be a strong possibility. Looking at the satellite view of the likely “background” the P-63 driver would have seen behind the B-17 shows a dark green wooded area.

Looking at the curving closure approach of the P-63 towards the B-17 may have presented the B-17 as almost stationary and ‘invisible’ to the P-63.


I base my thoughts on this video apparently taken from “Square 67 Shopping Center 6210 US 67 Frontage Rd Dallas, TX 75237”


https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Qfz7eFSX_FU

I can also imagine that the pilot of the Kingcobra may have been fixated on the other fighters and concentrating mostly on setting up a joining arc, and as you say any glances over the nose might not have been able to see the B17 against the background just over the nose, pilot is satisfied it's clear ahead, goes back to looking at the other fighters and completely misses seeing the B17.

To me it's a tragic accident and many other pilots in the same situation might not have been able to see and avoid the B17 under the circumstances.
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Old 14th Nov 2022, 08:16
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Originally Posted by tdracer View Post
Holly CRAP! What was that Kingcobra pilot thinking? That almost looks intentional!
It does, but I suppose all midairs might. However, you'd think the P63 pilot had to have the B17 in sight seconds before impact, but did not take action to avoid. Incapacitation?
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Old 14th Nov 2022, 08:22
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I acknowledge better explanations have preceded my reply. Thanks.
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Old 14th Nov 2022, 08:31
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I agree with UJC that the B-17 may have been somewhat out of position in timing,but then `heavies` don`t have much ability to `catch-up`.Another point is that if the `fighters` were allowed to come ``down` from their normal `pass altitude` that has to be done well before turning in,so you can see the heavies above the skyline( and that blue sky) and then come up to the correct level,and as I noted in #16,,if you can`t see the other aircraft,get out.Briefly embarassing for yourself ,but better than what possibly happened here.

On another point,the video of the P-63 `Walkaround`,it was mentioned by the pilot that there are blindspots,due to doorframes,etc,but his seating position appeared to be quite `low`,.He may not have been the pilot in this case,but you should really be up and head swivelling,eyeballs on stalks when formation flying..
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