The family of Len Root, a retired American Airlines pilot who was tragically killed last year in a midair collision, is suing the organizers of the Wings Over Dallas Air Show. The collision occurred in November 2022 when Root was inside a B-17 bomber with four other crew members, and their plane collided with a P-63 fighter plane. The collision resulted in the death of everyone on board both planes, leaving a packed Texas crowd in shock.
Kevin Koudelka, the attorney representing the Root family, expressed their desire for the lawsuit to uncover the truth behind the incident and hold those responsible accountable. He highlighted the emotional toll it has taken on Mrs. Root, who witnessed the tragic event unfold before her eyes. The lawsuit names the Commemorative Air Force (CAF), the organizers of the air show, and the owners of the planes as defendants.
The lawsuit alleges negligence, specifically targeting the air boss, who Koudelka referred to as the "quarterback calling the plays for the event." The family believes that the air boss, likely hired by the CAF, made critical errors that led to the fatal collision. According to preliminary reports from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), it was determined that the two planes should not have been in close proximity to each other.
Audio recordings released by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) earlier this year revealed that the air boss gave the go-ahead to the pilots just seconds before the crash. The CAF, in response to the lawsuit, stated that they were aware of the legal action and their attorneys were reviewing the petition. They assured that they would respond through appropriate channels.
In addition to Root, the tragedy claimed the lives of Terry Baker, Curt Rowe, Kevin Michels, Dan Ragan, and Craig Hutain. Disturbing videos posted on social media captured the moment of impact, showing the fighter plane colliding with the bomber, resulting in a massive fireball and plumes of smoke.
Both the FAA and the NTSB are conducting investigations to determine the cause of the collision. However, final conclusions may take several more months. The preliminary report from the NTSB revealed that there was no altitude advice plan for the pilots prior to the show, though it did not provide a specific cause for the crash.
Koudelka emphasized that the lawsuit aims to uncover the truth and hold those responsible accountable. He stated, "It's a lawsuit to find out who screwed up and hold them responsible because we know Mr. Root, the pilot, didn't screw up." The family seeks justice and closure for the loss of their beloved family member, whose passion for flying spanned his entire life.
The aviation community and the public at large mourn the loss of these six individuals and await the outcome of the investigations to prevent similar tragedies in the future.
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