Six lives were lost this weekend at the Dallas Air Show after two vintage WWII planes collided.
At this point little is known as to the cause, but the National Transportation Safety Board has brought in a team to lead the search for answers.
We know the pilots of the two aircraft were seasoned veterans who had thousands of flight hours (retired American Airline pilots among them we are told). Even though the B-17 and P-63 are older airplanes they undergo regular maintenance to ensure they are airworthy.
As of this weekend we had 43 of the B-17 bombers left from WWII with 9 of those that were airworthy. Of the P-63 only 14 aircraft were left from the war with only 4 that were airworthy.
The investigation will look at several aspects of the flight, including the last recorded maintenance for each aircraft as well as an in-depth review of all the video records that capture the moments of the crash, as well as those leading up to the disaster.
The possibility of pilot incapacity through a stroke or other means will also be a target for investigators as the remains are examined closely to see if any medical issues were present. Weather did not seem to be an issue but the conditions the night before leading up to the crash will be examined as a matter of protocol.
In all, the investigation could take as long as six to eight months, if not longer. The NTSB team will try to determine if a mechanical issue, pilot error, or combination of factors led to the crash. Sadly, at this point, we have far more questions than answers.
The NTSB team, as well as all other investigators, will strive to honor the memory of those lost by clearly identifying the cause (or causes) of the crash so we can prevent, as much as possible, future incidents involving these demonstration airplanes.
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