FAA Opens Investigation Into Jane Wicker’s Death

The Federal Aviation Administration has opened an investigation into the fiery plane crash that killed wing walker Jane Wicker and her pilot Charlie Schwenker.

The two died on Saturday at the Vectren Dayton Air Show when their biplane appeared to lose control. The aircraft crashed into the ground and tumbled, bursting into flames.

The FAA also announced on Monday that both Wicker and Schwenker had clean safety records leading up to the fatal accident. Neither one had accidents or were disciplined for any reason in the past.

Jane Wicker is the third wing walker to die in just the past two years. Before that, only two wing walkers were killed in the United States between 1975 and 2010. But Todd Green fell to his death at an air show in Michigan two years ago. And that same year, Amanda Franklin died of burns sustained during a plane crash in South Texas.

Franklin’s husband, Kyle, was the pilot. He lived. John Cudahy, president of the Leesburg, Va.-based International Council of Air Shows, explained that the number of wing walker deaths are coincidence. He added that it is too early to tell whether Saturday’s crash that killed Jane Wicker and Charlie Schwenker will lead to changes in safety standards among wing walkers.


NTSB investigator Jason Aguilera, who is leading the probe into the Dayton air show crash, stated that it is too soon to rule out what may have happened to cause the accident. It will take between six months and a year for the NTSB to announce its findings.

Jane Wicker left behind two teenage sons and a fiance. The couple was scheduled to be married next year on top of an airplane. Schwenker left behind a wife. The couple was supposed to celebrate their nine-year wedding anniversary on Tuesday.

While Jane Wicker’s death highlights the danger wing walkers have every time they take flight, it is unlikely to deter others from the thrill-seeking acrobatic work.