- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 14, 2014

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) - Federal safely investigators say pilot error was the probable cause of a fiery crash at a 2013 Ohio air show that killed a wing walker and the pilot in front of thousands of horrified spectators.

The Boeing Stearman biplane crash killed veteran wing walker Jane Wicker, 45, and pilot Charlie Schwenker, 64, both Virginia-based performers, at the Vectren Dayton Air Show on June 22, 2013.

The Dayton Daily News (https://bit.ly/1vZzJRP ) reported Tuesday that the National Transportation Safety Board concluded the pilot attempted to fly “a modified airshow maneuver, which placed the airplane at low altitude and airspeed and out of position within the performance area.”

The findings follow an initial Ohio State Highway Patrol investigation in July 2013 that attributed the cause to pilot error. NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway said the board doesn’t determine pilot error, but details probable causes.

The crash was more than 500 feet away from spectators, and air show organizers said the public wasn’t endangered. Performers fly in an “acrobatic box,” or safety zone, away from spectators.

“He was a fully qualified pilot,” said Terry Grevious, the air show’s executive director. “These things unfortunately happen sometimes, but he was experienced to do the maneuver.”

Sean Tucker, a veteran air show performer who witnessed the crash, said it was clearly pilot error.

“There was nothing wrong with the airplane, and it was a flawed maneuver,” Tucker said.

The air show increased safety precautions this year, adding a third fire truck to two smaller trucks.

Meanwhile, the air show this week announced that the next annual show will be June 20-21, 2015.

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Information from: Dayton Daily News, https://www.daytondailynews.com

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