Wing walker Jane Wicker and her pilot were confirmed dead after their plane crashed in a ball of flames at Dayton Air Show on Saturday afternoon.
Jane Wicker, a mother of two, was atop the biplane at the Vectren Air Show near Dayton, Ohio when it plunged to the ground in front of horrified onlookers. The pilot, Charlie Schwenker, also perished in the crash.
Witnesses reported hearing screams as the plane dived to the ground.
“All of a sudden I heard screaming and looked up and there was a fire ball,” Stan Thayer of Wilmington told the Dayton Daily News.
Shawn Warwick was also at the event and watching the crash through binoculars.
“I noticed it was upside down really close to the ground. She was sitting on the bottom of the plane,” he said.
“I saw it just go right into the ground and explode.”
Terrence Slaybaugh, the director of aviation for Dayton, confirmed their deaths around 2 p.m. The crash occurred at around 12:45 p.m.
In an interview earlier this week with WDTN, Jane Wicker expressed no apprehension about Saturday’s flight.
“I’m never nervous or scared because I know if I do everything as I usually do, everything’s going to be just fine,” Jane Wicker said.
The air show was cancelled for the rest of the day, and Sunday’s activities were cancelled as well.
Jane Wicker was well-known as a wing walker after being introduced to the daredevil activity through a Flying Circus ride she received as a birthday present.
Tragically, a picture on Facebook seems to indicate that she had recently become engaged.
According to her website, Jane Wicker was a full-time budget-analyst at the FAA, a freelance writer and had recently returned to school to earn a degree in finance.
She first got interested in aviation after taking a ride with a friend in 1988. After her first flying lesson she was hooked and continued to pay for all of her flying lessons until she received her pilot’s certificate in 1989.
Jane Wicker went on to get her several other pilot’s ratings, all while working full-time.
For a birthday present in 1989, Jane Wicker was gifted with an aerobatic plane ride. She loved it and a year later applied to be a wing walker after seeing a classified ad in the Washington Post.
The first time she walked on a wing was also her first air show.
Jane Wicker met her now ex-husband Kirk Wicker at a wing-walking audition. Jane and Kirk Wicker joined up and they created “Beauty and the Beast Wing Walking” together. She would walk on the wings while Kirk Wicker would fly the plane. When their marriage dissolved in 2002, Jane Wicker took a break from wing walking. The couple had two sons, one of which – Ben Wicker – just recently graduated high school.
Jane Wicker got back into wing walking in 2009 when she bought a new plane, Aurora, and re-entered the Airshow Circuit.