Family of pilot killed in tragic midair collision of WWII-era planes sues ‘Wings Over Dallas’

The family of Len Root, a retired American Airlines pilot who, along with five other men, was killed last year during a tragic midair collision between two WWII-era planes at Texas’s “Wings Over Dallas Air Show” is suing the event’s organizers for negligence.

As BizPac Review reported at the time, the November 2022 air show was organized by the Commemorative Air Force (CAF), a Texas non-profit dedicated to preserving aviation history.

Root was co-piloting a B-17 Flying Fortress when a Bell P-63 Kingcobra crashed into the back of it, according to Fox 4. As the horrified crowd looked on, the planes burst into flames and fell to the ground.

Attorney Kevin Koudelka is representing the Root family, who has yet to receive answers about the collision.

“Mrs. Root watched it happen, and she is not doing very well,” Koudelka told Fox 4.

(Video: YouTube)

On Thursday, the Koudelka filed a lawsuit in Dallas County on behalf of Root’s wife and daughters.

“We need the lawsuit to get into what happened and who is responsible for that,” he said. “Second part of that is, who is responsible? What happened? Who is wrong? And why did this happen? And hold them accountable.”

CAF and the owners of the planes are named in the suit, which alleges that they, among others, were negligent in many ways, both during the show, and leading up to that fateful day.

“One of the questions we have is the air boss, who I call the quarterback calling the plays for the event,” Koudelka said. “We believe he was employed by CAF.”

According to the lawsuit, that air boss “failed to draft, organize, and implement a safe and adequate flight plan for the airshow.”

“Our investigation thus far and the preliminary report from the NTSB [National Transportation Safety Board] summed up is the planes shouldn’t have been near each other,” Koudelka explained.

“It could still take several months before the official final NTSB report is released,” Fox 4 reports. “The preliminary report didn’t reveal the cause but states there wasn’t any altitude advice plan in place prior to the show.”

The FAA released in January audio recordings of the air boss communicating with the pilots.

(Video: YouTube)

Seconds before the collision, you can hear the air boss say, “Nice job, fighters. Come on through.”

“It’s a lawsuit to find out who screwed up and hold them responsible,” said Koudelka, “because we know Mr. Root, the pilot, didn’t screw up.”

In a statement to Fox News Digital, CAF said, “We are aware of the lawsuit filed against the Commemorative Air Force on August 31 by the family of one of our members who was tragically killed in the accident at the Wings Over Dallas Airshow in November 2022. Our attorneys are looking into the petition and will respond through the appropriate channels.”

“Along with Root,” the outlet reports, “the others killed were Terry Baker, Curt Rowe, Kevin Michels, Dan Ragan and Craig Hutain.”


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