DAYTON, Ohio — A routine performance for Jane Wicker and her pilot, Charlie Schwenker, turned deadly at the Vectren Dayton Airshow.
Saturday afternoon, their biplane crashed and burst into flames. Terry Slaybough, Dayton’s director of aviation, said it’s not clear what caused the plane to crash. Both Wicker and her pilot died at the scene.
“The FAA flight standards district office did have staff at the air show today, and they did witness the accident. They are going to have to do thru their investigation and usually this type of investigation for them could take a number of months before they really determine what caused the accident,” Slaybough said.
Wicker dazzled crowds as an experienced wingwalker. The stunt involves the performer climbing out of the cockpit during flight and walking on the aircraft. Wicker did this many times during her 23 year career as an aerobatic.
Video and pictures of Wicker’s high-flying performances show her maneuvering aircraft without a tether. Condolences are pouring in on Wicker’s Facebook fan page. The administrator of the page also asked people to keep both of the victims’ families in their prayers.
Tragedy among wingwalkers in the air show arena isn’t new. In August 2011, a wingwalker died at a show in southeast Michigan. Todd Green stood on his biplane and tried to grab onto a helicopter that flew above him as part of the stunt. However, something went wrong. He fell 200 feet, and later died from his injuries.
In a past interview with TLC, Wicker said it was a misconception that she had a death wish. She said she wished to fulfill her life to its optimum and experience as much as she can.
Schwenker, an experienced pilot, leaves behind loved ones in Virginia. Wicker leaves behind two sons and her fiancé.