It broke my heart to learn Jane Wicker and her pilot, Charlie Schwenker, were both tragically killed today while performing at the Dayton Airshow. Something terribly wrong happened with the airplane is my assumption, after watching video of the accident. Jane was an accomplished pilot, one of our lady taildragger pilots, and regularly performed as a wingwalker at airshows across the country. She adored her beloved “Aurora”, her 450 hp gorgeous Stearman.
I won’t post the accident video but will post an interview she gave yesterday to a local Dayton, Ohio TV station. Here is WDTN’s Dan Edwards interview with Jane.
In the sadness of this loss, we don’t want to lose sight of the passion Jane had for flying, her love for her Stearman, and the driving force aviation and wing-walking had in Jane’s life. Something went terribly wrong today and took her life and pilot Charlie Schwenker’s life. Something nobody can plan for. I watched the video and believe it wasn’t just a case of pilot error, too low on a hot day. Charlie started what was supposed to be a 2-point left roll. It appears he had control problems about 2/3’s the way into the first half-roll, reversed the direction of the roll trying to get right-side-up. With the control problem there was not sufficient altitude to recover. Did a rudder cable break or did the elevator jam? Like you, I will wait on the NTSB accident report but truth is, we may never really know what happened.
We will truly miss you Jane Wicker.