Vandalia, Ohio. On June 22, 2013, an airplane carrying wing walker Jane Wicker crashed at the Vectren Dayton Air Show, killing both Wicker and pilot Charlie Schwenker.
“The wing walker had positioned herself on the bottom side of the lower left wing,” stated in a preliminary NTSB report. The pilot rolled the plane upside down and while flying in front of spectators the nose pitched slightly above the horizon. “The airplane abruptly rolled to the right and impacted terrain in a descending left-wing-low attitude,” the document continued.
A video posted on WHIO-TV shows the small plane turn upside-down as the performer sits on top of the wing. The announcer narrates as the plane glides through the sky and rolls over while Wicker perches. ‘Now she’s still on that far side. Keep an eye on Jane. Keep an eye on Charlie. Watch this! Jane Wicker, sitting on top of the world,’ the announcer said, right before the plane makes a quick turn and nosedive, erupting into flames as spectators screamed.
Stan Thayer who witnessed the event told the Dayton Daily News: “All of a sudden I heard screaming and looked up and there was a fire ball.”
Shawn Warwick who was also there, said: “I noticed it was upside down really close to the ground. She was sitting on the bottom of the plane, I saw it just go right into the ground and explode.”
A spectator at the event couldn’t tell exactly what happened, but it appeared that the plane stalled and didn’t have enough air speed, he said. He credited the pilot for steering clear of spectators and potentially saving lives.
Vandalia City Councilman Dave Gerhard told WHIO: “It seemed like everything was just routine, It was flying upside down. I just nose-dived into the ground. Quick as you can blink your eye there was an explosion. It was a nose dive. Boom. Big Explosion.”
Following the impact the aircraft burst into flames, destroying the majority of the right wing and front of the fuselage, the NTSB stated.
Initial statements gathered by the NTSB and Federal Aviation Administration indicated that the pilot and wing walker had practiced the performance the day before the accident. Following the practice, neither the pilot nor the pilot-rated wing walker, reported any mechanical malfunctions or failures with the airplane.
The daredevil wing-walker had been planning to marry her pilot fiance on the wings of the same biplane that plummeted to earth and killed her, it has been revealed.
Jane Wicker, a world-renowned aerobatic stunt-woman, wanted to seal her three-year relationship with Rock Skowbo at a spectacular airshow wedding in front of thousands of spectators in 2014, she revealed on her website.
Their romance all started after Skowbo, a former commercial airline pilot, noticed Wicker’s beloved Boeing Stearman Biplane – Aurora. Skowbo later became Wicker’s pilot and mechanic – though he wasn’t in the cockpit when Wicker’s plane crashed on Saturday afternoon.
Wicker’s website says she responded to a classified ad from the Flying Circus Airshow in Bealeton, Va., in 1990, for a wing-walking position, thinking it would be fun. She was a contract employee who worked as a Federal Aviation Administration budget analyst, the FAA said.