Family of pilot killed in crash sues Texas air show organizers
Len Root, 66, was one of six people killed last year in a midair collision at the Wings Over Dallas Air Show.
The family of Len Root, who was one of six people killed last year when two WWII-era planes collided midair in front of a packed Texas crowd, is suing the organizers of the Wings Over Dallas Air Show.
“Mrs. Root watched it happen, and she is not doing very well,” Kevin Koudelka, who represents the family, told FOX 4 Dallas-Ft. Worth. “We need the lawsuit to get into what happened and who is responsible for that. Second part of that is who is responsible? What happened? Who is wrong? And why did this happen? And hold them accountable.”
Root, 66, was inside a B-17 bomber with four other crew members when it collided with a P-63 fighter plane last November, killing everyone in both planes.
Root was a retired American Airlines pilot who got his pilot’s license when he was 16.
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Len Root, 66, got his pilot’s license at 16 and worked as a pilot for American Airlines for a decade before he was killed last year. (Commemorative Air Force)
The organizers of the air show, the Commemorative Air Force (CAF), are among those named as defendants in the lawsuit, along with the owners of the planes, according to FOX 4.
The lawsuit claims negligence, especially on the part of the air boss, who Koudelka referred to as the “quarterback calling the plays for the event.”
He added they believe he was hired by the CAF.
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Koudelka added, “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.”
The air boss gave the go ahead to the pilots seconds before the crash, audio recordings released by the FAA earlier this year revealed, according to FOX 4.
The CAF told Fox News Digital in a statement: “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 others killed were Terry Baker, Curt Rowe, Kevin Michels, Dan Ragan and Craig Hutain.
Several videos posted on social media showed the fighter plane appearing to fly into the bomber, causing them to quickly crash to the ground and setting off a large ball of fire and smoke.
Both the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the NTSB are investigating the cause of the collision, and the final determination of the crash could take several more months.
While the preliminary report didn’t give the cause of the crash, it noted that there was no altitude advice plan for the pilots prior to the show.
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“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,” Koudelka added.
Fox News Digital’s Stephen Sorace contributed to this report.