It was in the third act of the 39th Dayton Air Show that Jane Wicker’s plane crashed and burst into flames. A fire truck was at the crash within seconds, but it was later confirmed by Ohio State Highway Patrol officials that Wicker and her pilot were killed. According to later reports, the plane was flying upside down, with Wicker sitting on the bottom of the plane, when it hit the ground, cartwheeled, and then burst into flames.
The announcer encouraged parents to move their children away from the crash scene. The show was cancelled for the rest of the day following the crash.
Stan Tayer of Wilmington told reporters that “All of a sudden I heard screaming and looked up and there was a fire ball.” Sawn Warwick of New Knoxville added to that that he was watching the plane through binoculars when “I noticed it was upside down really close to the ground. She was sitting on the bottom of the plane. I saw it just go right into the ground and explode.” His wife, Cara Warwick, added “I came back [from getting drinks] and everybody was just in shock.”
Wicker had been flying and performing for decades. She began her flying career back in 1989 after getting her pilot’s license. In 1990, she applied for and got a job with the Flying Circus Airshow, and according to her bio, the first time she walked on the wing of a plane was her first show. She was their prime attraction for 12 years.
She would form with her now ex-husband Kirk Wicker “Beauty and the Beast Wing Walking.” He was the pilot while she was the walker. She took a break in 2002 after the two divorced., but returned to flying not long after.
Wicker was also a certified acrobatic pilot. In addition to her flying work, she did Budget Analysis at the FAA, and wrote freelance.
The site for her shows promotes:
Step into our time machine and visit the Golden Age of Aviation. Jane Wicker demonstrates the daring and breath taking art of wing walking. Not just wing riding. This is the real thing. With no safety line and no parachute, she amazes the crowd by climbing, walking and hanging all over her beautiful 450 HP Stearman she affectionately calls “Aurora”. All this right in front of your eyes.
During the Barnstorming era, wing walkers competed by trying to out do one another with more impressive feats of daring on the airplane. Jane is no different and recreates the thrilling act of wing walking. Not only will you see her on top of the airplane during aerobatic maneuvers, but you will see her climb between the wings without benefit of a safety line and witness moves that no other wing walker is even brave enough to try. Sit back and hold your breath because you are about to see something you’ve never seen before. It will truly be something that you will remember for the rest of your life.
There is little word beyond the fact that the crash occurred. It may take some time for official word to come down as to what happened.
Video has surfaced of the crash- warning, video is graphic:
(Story updated with most current information.)