An airplane wingwalker and her pilot, both from Northern Virginia, were the two people killed Saturday in what’s been described as a horrific and fiery scene during the Vectren Dayton Air Show in Ohio.
Jane Law Wicker, the 46-year-old wingwalker from Bristow, and Oakton resident Charlie Schwenker, 64, died around 12:45 p.m. in the annual event’s second fatal plane crash in seven years.
Wicker, the chief operator of Jane Wicker Airshows of Front Royal, had performed in past years at the air show in Leesburg.
“Jane is the kind of person that once she gets her mind set on something, there is no stopping her,” reads her biography on Wingwalk.org. “Once bitten by the aviation bug, she was unstoppable, paying for every bit of flight time personally.”
Schwenker, a member of Wicker’s team, had been flying planes for decades.
“When not busy flying an air show elsewhere, Charlie can be found at the Flying Circus in Bealeton, Virginia most Sundays in the summer,” according to his bio on Wingwalk.org.
An investigation into the cause of the crash is expected to take months, the Dayton Daily News reported. The remaining performances Saturday were canceled, but events resumed Sunday.
Wicker was the mother of two sons. One graduated this year from Patriot High School in Nokesville. She became engaged in 2012 to another member of her air show team, Rock Skowbo.
Wicker and Skowbo were set to be wed in late 2013 or early 2014 in a “wingwalking wedding,” according to Potomac Falls resident and pilot Ed Levine, who knew Wicker for 30 years.
Levine, who also knew Schwenker for two decades, said he got a text around 2 p.m. Saturday reading simply, “OMG Jane Wicker.”
Knowing Wicker was in Dayton for the show, Levine said he quickly went on the Internet, where he learned the news of his two friends’ deaths through Facebook and news stories. Levine then called mutual friends to inform them of the accident.
Levine described Wicker and Schwenker as “great people” who were enamored with flight and the air show performances.
“Everything [Wicker] did was either for Rock and flying,” Levine said. “She worked – she worked at the Federal Aviation Administration – she worked to be able to fly.”
Schwenker was an “excellent pilot who had been doing this for 20 years,” Levine noted, causing him to believe something may have malfunctioned with the plane.