Plane with wing walker crashes

Last updated 07:38 23/06/2013

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A plane carrying a wing walker crashed Saturday at an air show and exploded into flames, killing the pilot and stunt walker instantly, authorities said.

Dayton International Airport spokeswoman Linda Hughes and Ohio State Highway Patrol Lt Anne Ralston confirmed the deaths to The Associated Press.

The crash happened at about 12.45pm at the Vectren Air Show near Dayton. No spectators were injured.

The show has been canceled for the remainder of the day. The names of those killed weren't released immediately, but a video posted on WHIO-TV showing the flight and crash identified the performer as wing walker Jane Wicker. A schedule posted on the event's website also had Wicker scheduled to perform.

The video shows the plane turn upside-down as Wicker sits on top of the wing. The plane then tilts and crashes to the ground, exploding into flames as spectators scream.

"All of a sudden I heard screaming and looked up and there was a fireball," spectator Stan Thayer of Wilmington, Ohio, told WHIO.

Wicker's website says she responded to a classified ad from the Flying Circus Airshow in Bealteton, Va., in 1990, for a wing walking position, thinking it would be fun.

She told WDTN-TV in an interview this week that her signature move as hanging underneath the plane's wing by her feet and sit on the bottom of the airplane while it's upside-down.

"I'm never nervous or scared because I know if I do everything as I usually do, everything's going to be just fine," she told the station.

In 2007, veteran stunt pilot Jim LeRoy was killed at the Dayton show when his biplane crashed and burned.

Organizers 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 cuts.

The air show, one of the country's oldest, usually draws around 70,000 people and has a US$3.2 million impact on the local economy. Without military aircraft and support, the show expected attendance to be off 30 per cent or more.

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- AP

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