Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 24th 2013 Contents A43
Monday, June 24, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
CINCINNATI---An air show in
southwestern Ohio reopened with
a moment of silence yesterday, a
day after a pilot and wing walker
died in a horrifying, fiery crash
in front of thousands of specta-
The Vectren Air Show near Day-
ton, which closed right after Sat-
urday s crash, resumed yesterday
in honour of pilot Charlie
Schwenker and veteran stunt-
woman Jane Wicker, both of Vir-
The two were killed when their
plane crashed suddenly in front of
spectators who screamed in shock
as the aircraft quickly was engulfed
in flames. No one else was hurt.
Video of the crash showed their
plane gliding through the sky
before abruptly rolling over, crash-
ing and exploding into flames.
Wicker, performing at the Dayton
show for the first time, had been
sitting atop the 450 HP Stearmans
The decision to resume the show
a day after the crash was an emo-
tional one supported by Wicker s
ex-husband, said air show general
manager Brenda Kerfoot.
"He said: This is what Jane and
Charlie would have wanted, " Ker-
foot said. " They want you to have
a safe show and go out there and
do what you do best. "
Wicker, 44, was a mother of
two boys and engaged to be mar-
ried, Kerfoot said. Schwenker, 64,
The cause of the crash is unclear
and the conclusion of an investi-
gation by the National Transporta-
tion Safety Board likely will take
Investigators picked through the
debris of the crash site Saturday.
Wicker s website says she
responded to a classified ad from
the Flying Circus Airshow in Beale-
ton, Virginia, in 1990, for a wing-
walking position, thinking it would
be fun. She was a contract employ-
ee who worked as a Federal Avi-
ation Administration budget ana-
lyst, the FAA said.
In one post on Wicker s site, the
stuntwoman explains what she
loved most about her job.
"There is nothing that feels more
exhilarating or freer to me than
the wind and sky rushing by me
as the earth rolls around my head,"
the post says. "I m alive up there.
To soar like a bird and touch the
sky puts me in a place where I feel
I totally belong. It s the only thing
I ve done that I ve never ques-
tioned, never hesitated about and
always felt was my destiny."
She also answered a question
she said she got frequently: What
about the risk?
"I feel safer on the wing of my
airplane than I do driving to the
airport," she wrote. "Why? Because
I m in control of those risks and
not at the mercy of those other
A programme for the air show
touted Wicker as a performer of
"heart-stopping" feats who did
moves that "no other wing walker
is brave enough to try."
"Wing riding is not for this
damsel; her wing walking style is
the real thing," the programme
said. "With no safety line and no
parachute, Jane amazes the crowd
by climbing, walking, and hanging
all over her beautiful...aircraft.
"Spectators are sure to gasp as
this daredevil demonstrates in true
form the unbelievable art of wing
walking," it says.
On the video of the crash, an
announcer narrates as Wicker s
plane glides through the air.
"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
Some spectators said they knew
something was wrong because the
plane was flying low and slow.
Thanh Tran, of Fairfield, Ohio,
said he could see a look of concern
on Wicker s face just before the
plane went down.
"She looked very scared," he
said. "Then the airplane crashed
on the ground. After that, it was
terrible, man...very terrible."
In 2011, wing walker Todd Green
fell 200 feet (60 metres) to his
death at an air show in Michigan
while performing a stunt in which
he grabbed the skid of a helicopter.
In 2007, veteran stunt pilot Jim
LeRoy was killed at the Dayton
show when his biplane slammed
into the runway while performing
loop-to-loops and caught fire.
Organisers were presenting a
trimmed-down show and expected
smaller crowds at Dayton after the
Air Force Thunderbirds and other
military participants pulled out
this year because of federal budget
The air show, one of the oldest
in the US, usually draws around
70,000 people and has a US$3.2
million impact on the local econ-
omy. Without military aircraft and
support, the show expected atten-
dance to be off 30 per cent or
US air show goes
on after wing
walker, pilot die
Jane Wicker (on wing) and her pilot, Charlie Schwenker, were killed when their plane crashed suddenly in
front of spectators who screamed in shock as the aircraft quickly was engulfed in flames on Saturday.
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