Six people have died following a mid-air collision at an airshow in Dallas, Texas.
The collision happened when the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress crashed with the Bell P-63 Kingcobra during a flying demonstration at the Wings Over Dallas airshow on Saturday.
The six men who were killed whilst aboard the aircrafts have been named as Terry Barker, Leonard Root, Curtis Rowe, Craig Hutain, Dan Ragan and Kevin Michels.
Terry Baker and Len Root are both former American Airline pilots who were killed in the crash whilst flying the B-17 plane.
The pair had a combined 76 years of experience flying for American Airlines.
Previously, Baker had worked as an instructor pilot and had also flown helicopters whilst serving in the US Army.
Meanwhile, Root had worked as a flight management system programme controller and flight director for the company.
Tributes have poured in for both the pilots since the crash. American Airlines' union, the Allied Pilots Association, released a statement saying, “Our hearts go out to their families, friends, and colleagues past and present.”
More tributes came in from friends and loved ones, including one who said “Len tragically died doing what he loved: flying a warbird in an airshow”.
Another lamented “To say you will be missed is the world’s biggest understatement, my friend. You are loved, and we are all better for having known you.”
Additionally, the mayor of Keller, Texas, Armin Mizani said “Terry Barker was beloved by many.”
The Mayor continued, “He was a friend and someone whose guidance I often sought. Even after retiring from serving on the city council and flying for American Airlines, his love for the community was unmistakable.”
Additionally, crew members Curtis Rowe, Dan Ragan and Kevin Michels were also aboard the B-17 plane when it crashed.
Both Rowe and Ragan had served in the US army. Rowe had previously been a mechanic and served in the Ohio wing of the Civil Air Patrol, an official civilian auxiliary of the US Air Force, for over thirty years. Meanwhile Ragan had been a colonel in the US Navy working as a combat radio operator during the Korean War.
One tribute for Rowe written by Pete Bowden, a colleague of Rowe at the non-profit Civil Air Patrol read, “I reach to find solace in that when great aviators like Curt perish, they do so doing what they loved,”
Further, he wrote, “Curt touched the lives of thousands of his fellow [patrol] members, especially the cadets who he flew during orientation flights or taught at flight academies and for that, we should be forever grateful.”
Meanwhile, Ragan had described his experience of flying the B-17 plane as being “in heaven.”
Kevin Michels, also aboard the B-17 aircraft, had been an avid historian who worked to educate people about the plane. He also worked with the Commemorative Air Force flight crew in many roles, including historian, media representative and tour supervisor.
One tribute to Michels read, “You had so much passion for your work and for your relationships.”
His love for flying was summed in another tribute, “It was exciting to feel that love every time your presence was near.”
Meanwhile, Craig Hutain, was aboard the single-seat Kingcobra plane when it crashed.
Previously, Hutain had described the P-63 as "an honor and a privilege to fly".
Hutain had learned to fly with his father who was a World War II veteran when he was only 10 years old. He had then undertaken a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering and flew commercially for Rocky Mountain Airways and United Airlines.
He had a passion for recreating historical airshows stating in interviews this year that it was his "lifelong obsession" and wanted to "try to create history lessons" for his audiences.
For example, his work included flying at the Tora Tora Tora airshow, which re-enacted the 1941 Pearl Harbor attack.
His adoration for historical aircrafts is evident in one tribute which read, “He said he loved any opportunity to show off the planes to whoever wanted to see them since they were a piece of history.”
A report into the incident is expected to be released within four to six weeks but investigators at the National Transportation and Safety Board has warned that a full investigation may take over a year.
Photo: Ross Photography via AP