(DAYTON, Ohio) — The Federal Aviation Administration has launched an investigation into one of its own after an agency budget analyst who moonlighted as a wing-walker died in a fiery crash during a weekend air show in Ohio.
Jane Wicker, 44, and pilot Charlie Schwenker, 64, died on Saturday performing an aerial stunt at the Vectren Dayton Air Show.
Wicker, the FAA employee, was also a pilot, according to her personal website. The National Transportation Safety Board is also investigating the crash, and an autopsy and toxicology test will be conducted separately.
Video from the event shows the small plane turn upside-down as the performer sits on top of the wing. The plane then tilts and crashes to the ground at the Dayton International Airport.
The plane immediately burst into a fireball as a crowd of thousands, including Wicker’s fiancé, watched in horror. Announcers at the show asked parents to turn their children away from the fiery scene. The show was canceled for the rest of the day.
Preliminary findings about what caused the crash are expected later this week, but the NTSB says it might take months to know whether the stunt itself or a mechanical problem contributed to the crash.
The bodies of Wicker and Schwenker will be released to their families after Monday’s autopsies.
“We’re not going to have any kind of determinations of findings or probable cause at this point,” NTSB investigator Jason Aguilera said.
Wicker, a mother of two teenagers, was a star on the air-show circuit and one of the nation’s few female wing walkers who dazzled crowds with dramatic maneuvers. Wicker has been wing-walking since 1990, when she answered an ad because she thought “it would be an exciting way to enter the air-show business,” according to her website.
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