All six people who died in Saturday’s midair collision of two vintage aircraft at the Wings Over Dallas Airshow have been identified.
Terry Barker, Craig Hutain, Kevin Michels, Dan Ragan, Leonard Root and Curt Rowe were all members of the Commemorative Air Force, a Texas nonprofit group “dedicated to flying and restoring World War II aircraft” and the host of the air show, according to its website.
“We are heartbroken to announce that the following members of the Commemorative Air Force went west on Saturday, November 12, 2022, at the Wings Over Dallas WWII Airshow while performing,” the group said in a statement.
“Please join us in mourning the loss of our good friends and fellow airmen.”
The crash occurred around 1:20 p.m. Saturday, when the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress and a Bell P-63 Kingcobra collided at the Dallas Executive Airport, according to information provided by the Federal Aviation Administration.
According to Commemorative Air Force CEO and President Hank Coates, there’s a very strict process of training for volunteers, who are vetted very carefully and are mostly retired pilots.
“These are very well trained folks that have been doing it for a while,” he said at a news conference on Saturday.
The Commemorative Air Force did not specify which men were on board the Flying Fortress and which of the victims were on the Kingcobra when the planes collided.
Maj. Curtis J. Rowe served for more than 30 years on the Ohio Wing of the Civil Air Patrol and “volunteered as a crew member on a vintage Boeing B–17 Flying Fortress for the Commemorative Air Force where he shared his passion for flying,” according to a statement from the service.
“Curt touched the lives of thousands of his fellow Civil Air Patrol members, especially when flying cadets during hundreds of orientation flights over the course of his service,” said Peter K. Bowden, the commander of the Ohio Wing.
During his time with the Civil Air Patrol, Rowe “served in positions ranging from Safety Officer to Operations Officer at the squadron and wing levels, with his most current position being Ohio Wing Maintenance Officer.”
The 64-year-old Hillard, Ohio, man loved flying and teaching others about it, according to his family, NBC affiliate WCMH reported.“There’s not very many like him around,” Tom Rowe, his cousin, told the outlet. “He loved his family. He had great pride in his country and in serving his country.”
Terry Barker was an U.S. Army veteran and a former city councilman in Keller, Texas, according to Mayor Armin Mizani.
“Terry Barker was beloved by many,” he wrote in a Facebook post along with pictures of Barker. “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 community was unmistakable.”
The Allied Pilots Association, the American Airlines pilots union, identified Barker as one of the crew members lost on the B-17 Flying Fortress.
Barker served on the city council from 1999 to 2003 and was an experienced pilot who recently retired, according to NBC Dallas-Forth Worth.
“He was a pilot for American Airlines. He was a captain. He just recently retired in 2020. But he was with American Airlines for 36 years,” Mizani told the outlet.
Barker leaves behind his wife, two sons and a new grandchild, NBC Dallas-Forth Worth reported.
“Yesterday he was flying to honor the greatest generation. Today, the Field of Honor in front of Keller Town Hall will remain standing an additional week in his honor,” Mizani said.
An Oregon native who loved flying, Leonard Root, 66, got his pilot’s license when he was just 16-years-old and went on to get his aviation degree from Hesston College in Kansas, his daughter, Rebekah Lowery, told NBC News.
“Over the years he worked his way up by becoming a flight instructor so he could get flight hours,” she said. “He would move up to bigger and bigger planes as he built his hours up, getting flying certificates and licenses in order to fly larger aircraft.
At 30 years old he started working with American Airlines at its Dallas hub, first as a flight engineer, then a co-pilot, until he became captain.
Root was identified by the American Airlines pilots union as one of the crew members lost on the B-17 Flying Fortress.
In a Facebook post, Lowery said her father’s retirement party from the airline was a year ago Sunday.
“He lived for flying, for going fast,” she wrote. “He was the most friendly, talkative, charming guy. He never knew a stranger.”
Lowery says she and her sisters grew up with the B-17 plane and cheered on their dad during his shows.
“We are so proud. He loved that plane,” she wrote. “He is leaving behind a huge legacy. We are not ready to say goodbye. Dad, we love you with all our hearts. We are shattered.”
Larisa Lichte, another one of Root’s daughters, told NBC News her 10-year-old daughter had a strong bond with her pilot grandfather.
“She wants to be a pilot,” she said.
Root joined the Commemorative Air Force and flew the B-17 plane for about 30 years, according to Lowery.
Craig Hutain was identified as the pilot of the Bell P-63 Kingcobra.
He started flying at 10 years old, according to his bio on Tora Tora Tora Airshows website.
He became a flight instructor while in college and graduated with a degree in aeronautical engineering from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo.
Most recently, Hutain served as a captain for United Airlines and was based out of Houston, Texas, according to the bio.
United Airlines did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Hutain started flying with the Commemorative Air Force in 2009, and had over 34,500 hours of flight time in over 100 types of aircraft under his belt.
He also served as the Executive Officer for Tora Tora Tora, an airshow that aims to educate on “how the course of U.S. history was changed on December 7th, 1941,” at Pearl Harbor.
“Heartbroken is not a strong enough word,” the airshow said in a statement on Instagram. “Please join us in mourning the loss of our good friends and fellow airmen.”
He leaves behind his wife, two children and four grandchildren, according to the bio.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.