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Flying Circus Aerodrome alum killed in Dayton airshow accident
BY DAN MCFARLAND / THE FREE LANCE-STAR
A wing walker and a pilot with ties to the Flying Circus Aerodrome in Bealeton died in a fiery crash Saturday during a performance in an Ohio air show.
Wing walker Jane Wicker of Loudoun was sitting on the wing of a 450-horsepower Stearman flown by Charlie Schwenker of Oakton when it tilted and crashed to the ground at the Vectren Air Show near Dayton.
Horrified spectators watched as it burst into flames, killing the performers. No one else was hurt.
“The accident is not only devastating to the entire Flying Circus family, but it is just unbelievable,” said John King, a pilot who operates the Flying Circus. “A lot of us are in shock.”
Wicker had performed as a wing walker at the popular Flying Circus for more than nine years. She got her start when she answered its ad in 1989 for a wing walking position.
“I knew I would either love it, or be completely petrified,” she said in her biography on the Flying Circus website.
Wicker was also an aerobatic pilot, and an accomplished competition pilot.
Schwenker, a rated commercial pilot, flew competition aerobatics and was a performer at the Flying Circus in a Pitts S1T biplane as well as an Extra 300 fully aerobatic craft.
“Jane and Charlie were two of the most professional air show people that I know,” said King. “I had total confidence in Charlie. Jane was one of the most experienced wing walkers in the country.”