A stuntwoman and her pilot tragically died on Saturday, June 22, after their plane suddenly crashed to the ground, bursting into flames as thousands of spectators looked on at the Vectren Air Show near Dayton, Ohio.
The stuntwoman, 44-year-old Jane Wicker was confirmed dead with her pilot, Charlie Schwenker, 64. They both hailed from Virginia. In video footage captured by people in the crowd, their plane is seen gliding in the sky before rolling over, crashing. Seconds later, it's seen being engulfed in flames.
In a statement on Wicker's Facebook page, it reads, "It is with sad hearts that we announce that Jane Wicker and Charlie Schwenker were tragically killed while performing at the Vectren Dayton Airshow. We ask for your prayers for the families and privacy of all involved and allow them time to grieve and work through these events. No one else was involved in the accident."
According to the Dayton Daily News, the pilot did manage to guide the plane away from the audience before it crashed. Janet Broderson was an eyewitness to the tragedy. “I saw it coming in really low, and it sounded like the engine cut, and then it just went down,” she told the paper. “It didn’t sound like a crash. It sounded more like a boom, a pop.”
Wicker, mom to two children, has been a wing walker (where she performs on a moving plane), for over 10 years.
John King, president of the Flying Circus Airshow, where Wicker had trained, expressed his sadness over the crash. "As a pilot, you accept the fact that accidents do happen — it's an accepted risk we take," he said via ABC News. "They were both dedicated to flying and the act. They were true, ultimate professionals."
He added, "I don't know of anyone who could have done any better than what they were doing."
The air show resumed on Sunday, June 23, with the crowd honoring a moment of silence for Wicker and Schwenker.
According to ABC News, the cause of the crash is unclear and the conclusion of an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board likely will take months.