One of six people killed in a weekend collision of vintage planes during an air show in Texas grew up in Bend.
The fatal collision happened on Saturday during the Wings Over Dallas WWII Air Show.
Among the deceased is Leonard Root who earned his pilot’s license in Bend and lived here until the early 1980s.
Root was born in Prineville, lived in Madras and attended Bend High School where he graduated in 1974.
He earned his pilot’s license at age 16 and went on to a long career in commercial aviation, including as a pilot for American Airlines.
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He also flew a vintage B-17 Flying Fortress for the Commemorative Air Force.
About 12:30 pm Saturday during an air show, the B-17 and a P-63 fighter collided in mid-air, exploded and crashed to the ground.
All six occupants on board both planes were killed.
“We began securing the audio recordings from the air traffic control tower,” said Michael Graham, National Transportation Safety Board. “We surveyed the accident site by the NTSB’s drone, as well as photographed the scene from the ground to document the accident site prior to wreckage being removed, or being moved.”
In a Facebook post, Root’s daughters wrote they grew up around the B-17, sold t-shirts, gave tours of the historic plane and cheered their father on during air show performances.
They say their dad was the coolest guy, who lived for flying and going fast.
“The families are being taken care of. They are receiving counseling,” said Hank Coats, Commemorative Air Force President. “Not just of those who are participating in the issue but also the CAF folks and any folks who who may have seen it and have issues with what they saw.”
Because of the age of the planes, neither had a flight date recorder — a so-called “black box.”
The accident will be reconstructed based on radio conversations between the flight crews, support crews and air traffic control, also videos taken by the public and analysis of the wreckage.
Len Root’s family is preparing a statement.