Texas Raiders
9 min read

The pale blue sky above a crisp November day was framed by airshow smoke, miles of it, created by over a dozen warbirds pounding out round sound which echoed to the heavens. Eagerly and with great anticipation of yet another spectacular airshow moment, one of many that fateful day, I was laser focused on the approaching B-17 Texas Raiders both before and at the moment of impact by the P-63. Beforehand, all seemed to be controlled, safe, and as expected in a formation composed of bombers and fighters doing multiple passes, right to left, then using a 90/270 turning reset, a left to right pass over and again. The cumulative result of the collective effort filled the sky with aluminum, smoke, and propeller-driven thunder, precisely what the CAF Bomber Parade had done flawlessly and safely for decades.

Just before the mid air collision, the fast movers—comprised of three P-51 Mustangs and the mishap P-63 Kingcobra—had transitioned from a four-ship echelon formation performing high passes above it all, and was executing a descending turn to put themselves in front of the bombers in single-ship passes with interval spacing. This started with what appeared to be a circular tail chase maneuver, culminating with an airshow center point pass just before the bomber flight arrived. It was power and beauty.

The bombers fast approaching were, in order, the B-17, B-24, and B-25, followed by another B-25.

What I first noticed, which foreshadowed the fateful event, was the graceful, arcing line and extreme closure rate of the P-63 moments before impact. The thought became, Wow. I wonder what his rejoin will look like, in an attempt by my pilot eye to reconcile how he was going to rejoin on the B-17, something I was clearly not expecting and knew was impossible considering the speed and geometry. In another microsecond, I expected to see him blaze past the left wing of the B-17 and onto show center.

Then it happened and it was horrific. Pieces. Mist. Flames. Black smoke reaching up to the same pale blue sky from which it all started so majestically. Slowly the round sounds above faded into the distance as the formation diverted to an alternate landing site, revealing a speechless, still, and completely silent crowd. The PA system was playing the haunting anthem from Saving Private Ryan, then it too went silent.

I watched it all unfold, seeing but not believing. My boys and I were away from the crowd at the extreme far left of show center—a unique perspective all by chance. It happened directly in front of us, such that we felt a mild—but jolting—sensation of heat from the fireball. As with all traumatic events, it took hours afterwards for me to process and reconcile: “Did I just see that and what exactly did I just see?”

It was real but it was surreal. I was shocked to see it, but I was not surprised it happened.

Airshow flying is inherently dangerous, even more so in 80-year-old former military aircraft, most especially when there are many airplanes, big and small, fast and slow, flying through the same patch of sky. Did it look dangerous? Absolutely not. It looked professional and polished. It was thrilling to see, and I was grateful to see it with my boys because this air demonstration is precisely what we hoped to see.

I wish now I could completely forget how a glorious day ended so tragically.

I have thought long and hard about it all. I am not qualified to offer an explanation on why it happened, nor am I attempting to here. What I saw through my military-trained pilot and longtime airshow enthusiast eyes leads me to speculate—admittedly prone to eyewitness bias limitations—is this: the P-63 got wide, or became spit out as the last ship in the line of fast movers, on his approach for his individual pass, causing him to be noticeably far behind his flight. That he was late and/or off his intended ground track line—or that the B-17 was early and/or off its intended ground track line—is for the experts to conclude from the evidence they uncover.

I suspect the P-63 pilot was solely focused on his lead and his wingman ahead. I suspect the P-63 pilot may have seen the B-24 (the second heavy bomber behind the B-17) and mis-identified it as the B-17 lead aircraft and pressed in for the pass, genuinely believing he had cleared the intended flight path which was not as precisely set up at the outset as he intended. That’s not unusual in aviation because no one flies a perfect maneuver. Ever.

Unexplainably, the P-63 went belly up to the bomber formation, and this is a rule never broken. But I suspect he bet his life or better stated, accepted a calculated risk, that he was absolutely certain he was clear of the oncoming Bomber Parade. There is a chance he descended inadvertently from an established deconfliction altitude and into the bomber altitude, assuming altitude separation was part of their pre-briefed procedure, and I am quite sure that safeguard has been employed for decades. But I don’t know with certainty.

One thing is obvious: forward visibility directly over the nose of any vintage airplane in a high speed, high banked turn while maintaining visual contact with three wingman, all very low to the ground, lining up on a precise show line, accomplished looking through a bird cage canopy unmodified from its original 1940s design, is a formidable challenge, the likes of which scant few pilots can routinely make the extraordinary look ordinary on any given Saturday.

Until this day.

Legendary aviation author Ernest K. Gann once penned a book, Fate is the Hunter, detailing how unseen, unanticipated and improbable events sometimes align to create tragedy. It immediately came to mind when I considered how the unfortunate fate of five souls onboard the B-17 resulted in shielding (one might attribute through divine intervention) thousands watching from harm. Had the P-63 not impacted the B-17 in such a brutal and direct angle, stopping the forward motion of both almost immediately where they fell harmlessly on the infield, the trajectory of the mortally wounded fighter—had it instead glanced off the bomber—likely would have gone straight into the crowd.

Indeed this day was bad, but it could have been far worse.

Let me be clear. I am not qualified to say, and I do not know for sure, why such a tragic fate emerged, but I do know this has never happened across decades of doing this show, which millions of people have enjoyed. That’s because the plan, procedure, and pilots of the CAF are exactly what we expect them to be: professional stewards of irreplaceable history, flown in front of a public who came to be educated, uplifted, and inspired.

For the dwindling few of the last remaining World War II veterans present on that day, it was the greatest part of the Commemorative Air Force mission—to honor the service of the Greatest Generation. It pains me beyond words that they hold memories, still vivid after eight decades, of watching their comrades die in training, in battle, and now in the case of the P-63 pilot, a direct descendant of one their extended comrades in arms, tragically meeting his fate after striking the same model aircraft his dad flew over Nazi Germany.

This tremendous irony will not be lost on anyone.

The accident I saw was the result of what the experts in the craft of accident investigation term as “a lot of little.” Every accident entails just that, and after the ink has dried on this report well over a year from now, it will read the same as all before it. There is never a smoking gun and rarely just one person alone was mistaken in what they believed so deeply was right. Perhaps this accident was set in motion years ago with some unnoticed misstep in an otherwise solid plan, and ultimately fate became the hunter.

In the aftermath, I have read much and thought much about what I saw. People are prone to say of the fallen, “They died doing what they loved.” Perhaps, and very likely true. But death at an airshow is horrific to watch, no matter how noble the purpose or how safe the display is designed to be.

The aftermath, forever impacting family and friends, is magnitudes worse.

The logical question then arises: should others be permitted to trod upon the sky in pursuit of inherently risky endeavors so that history is not forgotten and, more importantly, experienced in a direct and personal way which uplifts, inspires, and honors? I cannot speak for us all, but I can say of myself that I stand upon the shoulders of the giants before me who modeled what a life aloft, with purpose and character, looks like.

Watching airshows as a kid had a positive and far reaching impact on my life. They made me achieve in school when I did not want to, adhere to the law when I did not want to, and live purposefully so that my dreams to become a military pilot became reality. I saw a fatal airshow accident when I was a teenager learning to fly. It left a scar which constantly reminds me today, both as a professional and private pilot, that I am not immune to the undesired outcome of the slightest miscalculation, regardless of how many tens of thousands of hours are in my logbook.

I know fate is forever hunting me.

Seeing this tragedy, and experiencing it through the shared collective experience of two adult sons standing next to me, leaning upon one another in shock, sorrow, and disbelief, watching ambulances stand idly by as fire trucks futilely attempt to stop the fiery demise of the legendary Texas Raiders B-17 they first met as young children, was nothing short of horrific.

Even so, today’s outcome does not change the past, present, or future of warbird flying in my opinion. It is just another chapter in the brotherhood of aviation, and in an even greater way, our history and humanity itself.

Lord guard and guide those who fly.

40 replies
  1. Dale Hill
    Dale Hill says:

    My late father-in-law was a B-17 top turret gunner and flight engineer with the 95th BG in WWII shot down on the crew’s 2nd mission. At an airshow in Dallas I paid $5 each for my wife and I to climb into and walk through a B-17 on static display. As we stood in the cockpit, I pointed to the plate on the floor on which she was standing. I explained that it was the base plate upon which the top turret would turn as the gunner fought off attacking fighters. The ‘water works’ turned on as my sweetheart imagined her beloved Dad and what the Greatest Generation went through in preserving our freedoms. May God rest the souls who were part of this tragic loss in helping to keep alive the memories of that Greatest Generation.

    Reply
  2. Mark
    Mark says:

    Douglas

    Well you got it partly correct. There were only 2 P-51’s flying with the P-63.

    Also the pilot’s dad did not fly B-17’s primary. He was a B-24 pilot according to the 8th AF Historically Society.

    Reply
    • Robert Cunningham
      Robert Cunningham says:

      Pilot error bullshit that was intentional. I’m just an mechanic but that was avoidable. It cost the Lives of a lot of good people. The old Bell should not have been anywhere close the the B17. Whatever the case, covering up is not the answer. Bless the Historians that lost their lives. We’ll all go forward with more caution.

      Reply
      • Dale Hill
        Dale Hill says:

        How about you leave the experts to determine the cause of the wreck and we’ll leave you to being ‘just a mechanic’? Those killed in this tragedy were dedicated to keeping alive the legacy of those who flew these airplanes and they recognize both the risk and the dangers to do just that while at the same time working on their skills to keep it safe. I know several of the pilots associated with and who fly with the CAF, and they are not suicidal maniacs.

        Reply
      • doug Jackson
        doug Jackson says:

        intentional?? Why would you even say such a thing?
        Both of these aircraft were based in Conroe Texas, and the pilots and crew were all friends. I can assure you Craig was not suicidal.

        Reply
      • BJ High
        BJ High says:

        As a holder of both Pilot and. A&P certificates, you are just a mechanic. An Aircraft Maintenance Technician would never say wat you said. Get a life and a different job.

        Reply
      • Michael J Capoccia
        Michael J Capoccia says:

        Mr. Cunningham, I have a few questions for you, as you seem fit to speak, please revisit this site and answer. Q1, were you an eyewitness to this event?
        Q2; Where you in a location where you could determine the King Cobra Pilots intentions?
        Q3: DO you have exact information as to the planned vs actual flight paths?
        Q4; Do you have any information other than your own speculation as to cause that would hep the NTSB determine a cause of this accident?
        If not I think your statement as above carries little weight and is taken as nothing but hot air from an ignorant sod.

        Reply
      • David Hale
        David Hale says:

        What is wrong with you Mr. Cunningham? Don’t just talk to hear yourself. No pilot of such an aircraft would ever do that. By the way, I am also ‘just a mechanic’.

        Reply
  3. Dave Jordan
    Dave Jordan says:

    I don’t comment much on websites. People around the world read this column, Mr Cunningham, that do not need to see your version of free speech. i would suggest an apology is in order, and more discretion and gentility in the future. i am also ‘just a mechanic’.

    Reply
  4. Bruce Cohen
    Bruce Cohen says:

    To Robert Cunningham:
    It’ll be a cold day in hell before I’d ever let you put your hands on my aircraft. You owe these folks families, friends and the entire CAF an apology.

    Reply
  5. Patrick Larreategui
    Patrick Larreategui says:

    Doug- Thank you for taking the time to write this first hand account! God rest the souls of all involved! Fate truly is the hunter!

    Reply
  6. Paul Smith
    Paul Smith says:

    Why is it that we can stand around and know what happened and why, but we can’t take the time to plan how to avoid such stupidity? We know that air shows are dangerous because it’s what we do that makes them that way. At some point, it stops being about the airplane and becomes about the pilot’s ego. “Look at me! I’m a genuine fighter pilot!” Yeah, well you’re not. Because a fighter pilot is all about safety and not about making people shake their heads in wonder about how that idiot survived this long.

    Air shows, especially CAF air shows should consist of flying the airplane so people can get pictures and that is IT. No stunts, no aerobatics, No dynamic formations with changing geometry. You get to see the airplane in it’s environment and nothing else. How many Forts have we destroyed in the last 10 years? How many irreplaceable airplanes are now gone due to accidents and stupid tricks gone bad? Go ahead and kill yourself if you want to but leave the hangar closed.

    Reply
    • Dave K
      Dave K says:

      Being a fighter pilot is NOT all about safety. It never was. Fighting is fighting, plain and simple. It carries inherent risks that the fighter will accept. This includes flying/fighting. Commercial passenger flying is all about safety.

      Reply
  7. Bryan Lillegard
    Bryan Lillegard says:

    I just wanted to say Thank You to Mr. Douglas Evans for writing his eye witness account. I share your love of flying, love of airplanes and a similar pilot’s life experience. I knew when you wrote about the Belly Up Rule being broken I was reading a trained aviation witness account. Thank You for writing your respectful aviator account. I’ll be providing it to my fellow EAA Chapter 419 members. Enjoy flying your 1946 Globe Swift.

    Reply
  8. Les Abend
    Les Abend says:

    Mr. Evans, please accept my compliments on a well-articulated piece upon witnessing last weekend’s CAF tragedy. It was a touching piece and written through the eyes of a veteran and a professional aviator. You offered plausible explanations, which will assist many of us in processing this awful event. I am sorry that your sons will have this memory, but it is indeed a reminder of just how fragile life can be for those who take risks for the benefit of others.

    Reply
  9. Charlie Williams
    Charlie Williams says:

    I can understand the posts that state the possibility of this being intentional, and I can understand the outrage that this triggered based on other posts that followed. My own personal opinion is that there is a possibility of this being intentional

    Reply
    • Lloyd Smith
      Lloyd Smith says:

      Not a chance! I’m a 50 year, low time pilot and have met every kind of pilot amongst us. To me, it’s inconceivable any pilot would intentionally harm another pilot in peace time or intentionally destroy a beautiful warbird. Yes, I know about opinions, everybody has one.

      Reply
  10. Duane Mader
    Duane Mader says:

    Thank you Mr. Evans. I recommend “Fate is the Hunter” to all pilots, especially aspiring professional pilots, it contains knowledge & wisdom that should not be lost. To any journalists reading this, please disregard the woefully ignorant comments about this possibly being “intentional”.
    “A lot of little” is almost surely the correct analysis, almost all accidents are a chain of events even though we may not know what each small chain link was at this time.

    Reply
    • Lance Weaver
      Lance Weaver says:

      Duane,

      Well stated. “Fate is the Hunter” is one of the best aviation books I have read and frankly describes the inherent, subtle dangers in aviation. A lot of those dangers are inherent in life in general, but we have been lulled into a false sense of security that we can control them.

      Reply
  11. Tom Matowitz
    Tom Matowitz says:

    The B -17 didn’t swerve into the path of the P – 63 without warning. The man at the controls of the P – 63 lost situational awareness and paid with his life. Payment in full required five other lives and two irreplaceable aircraft.
    Hours in a logbook don’t matter. We are all of us a moment of inattention away from catastrophe, a harsh lesson that has been taught regularly for a more than a century.

    Reply
    • Bill Hodges
      Bill Hodges says:

      Thanks you, sir, for sharing your and your son’s horrific memory. Few have ever been in such a position to offer a pilots view of a fatal event. Pushing 80, my years as an aviation buff tell me to speak out about anything remotely “ intentional”. These Band of Aviator Brothers are certainly the best friends on earth. To say otherwise is sacrilege.

      Reply
    • PhilR
      PhilR says:

      Totally agree that it was probably loss of situational awareness. He had his belly toward the B17 and probably never saw him. So many mid airs happen because of the same thing that happened here. This was so tragic. Fate is the Hunter is dead on and one of the best aviation books on the planet. To all that are saying this was intentional, please study up more on aviation and especially why mid-airs happen. It’s scary that no matter how good a person is at flying, all it takes is a blind spot, and wham, your wings are clipped or you’ve clipped someone else’s. Blancolirio, on YouTube, has an excellent video about this accident that’s worth seeing.

      Reply
  12. Mike McGinn
    Mike McGinn says:

    “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men.” There is no perfect plan and there is no perfect execution. Life is inherently risky. We simply do our best to mitigate the risks as we live our lives.

    This incident reminds me of a mid-air collision between an F/A-18 and and AV-8 about 3 decades ago. It was a 2v2 check flight for an ACTI (air combat tactics instructor) qualification. The flight was planned and briefed to the minutest detail and it was flown with a highly qualified MAWTS-1 (Marine Aviation Weapons & Tactics Squadron) evaluator.

    Long story short, there was a “cross-targeting” that occurred, unbeknownst to anyone in the flight, which resulted in the F/A-18 and AV-8 flying past each other as they pursued the other aircraft they were targeting. Thankfully, the “collision” was just between the wingtip of the AV-8 and the tail of the F/A-18. Both aircrew initially thought they’d simply flown through someone’s jet wash. Both aircraft were ultimately able to safely land, albeit, the “training wheel” on the wing of the AV-8 was gone, so, after a hover landing, the plane came to a final rest on it’s wingtip.

    The flight had been flown on an ACMI (air combat maneuvering instrumentation) range, which tracks aircraft position down to the foot. In analyzing the date is it was determined that the tail of the AV-8 passed just inches above the F/A-18 cockpit. Had they been a few feet closer, the F/A-18 pilot would have been killed instantly and the AV-8 pilot would likely have needed to eject. Had they been a few feet further apart, it is likely that no one would have realized how close they’d come until the debrief when the ACMI data was reviewed.

    Fate is indeed the hunter.

    Reply
  13. Doug Abney
    Doug Abney says:

    Mr. Evans ,
    Thanks for writing your insightful perspective of this tragic mishap . Despite the terrible loss of lives I hope the warbird community will learn from this, make changes where needed, and continue to showcase these rare WWII aircraft.
    I’m just a 73 year old pilot with a love for aviation particularly WWII airplanes inherited from my dad who was “just a mechanic” during WWII working on Navy fighters mostly the Wildcat in the Pacific battles. I never tire of seeing and hearing these planes fly at air shows.
    I have no business commenting on the cause of this mishap. I have never been an air show pilot. But I have had a bit of aviation safety training at the Navy’s Aviation Safety Officer School. It is often said there are no “new” accidents. Accidents are often years in the making do to design flaws, equipment failure, training deficiencies or culture. That is why a safety program attempts to put in place “barriers” so the so-called accident chain can be broken.
    I am sure the highly skilled and experienced warbird pilots and air boss thought the air show plan was safe. Nevertheless, something went wrong. Was a required barrier to prevent two aircraft from being at the same pint in the sky omitted? Were all the “what ifs” determined and mitigated? For example , what is the “barrier” if a plane accidentally deviates from its briefed track due to wind, mechanical problems etc.? For instance, This can be mitigated by altitude separation.
    The warbird community I believe will get together and solve this and future air shows will be safer because if it. This is not like the last terrible B17 mishap where inexcusable maintenance deficiencies played a key role in that crash.

    Reply
    • Warren Webb Jr
      Warren Webb Jr says:

      Yes. I think we can actually relate to this in everyday flying. For example, very good procedures are established at towered airports to safely sequence aircraft. However the North Las Vegas mid-air accident still occurred. It probably isn’t possible to predict every contingency – good thing to remember and stay as vigilant as possible.

      Reply
  14. David Yonker
    David Yonker says:

    Thank you Doug this was well written with good information as to what might of happened. As a small plane pilot for 42 years, I’m very interested in any accident. We would all like to have moments back in life to change a choice we made however right we thought we were at the time. I’m amazed at how some of us get so many second chances and some never get one second chance. Just reading accident reports and stories like these may have saved my life twice now when flying. I feel sorry for those that “know” this was intentional as they lost a chance to learn from your wisdom and your thoughts. Many of these War Birds were built less than 50 years after the first flight in history, many lives were lost to get where we are now. Most Pilots will read this not to judge but to learn and be better Pilots for doing so.Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts.

    Reply
  15. Edward angel
    Edward angel says:

    Mr Evans wrote an excellent eyewitness account. The comment that it was “intentional” is simply inaccurate and irresponsible. It would appear the Air Cobra pilot possibly lost situational awareness the pilots who fly these airshows are highly trained and and practice extensively extremely unfortunate accident…..

    Reply
  16. George Frost
    George Frost says:

    Intentional? The P-63 pilot could not see the the B-17 through the nose and belly of his aircraft. How do you intentionally hit what you can not see? If you are a pilot and put yourself in the P-63 you know the B-17 was invisible. Let the NDSB do it’s job without all of the anger an event like this generates. Our sorrow generated anger related to the loss, often creates harsh unintended thoughts and words directed at others who are just as crushed. We are all sharing this loss

    Reply
  17. Francis Faludi
    Francis Faludi says:

    A nicely written tribute to the men/women who put on these events. Unfortunately in some rare cases it ends in tragedy from which hopefully some lessons can be learned.

    Reply
  18. John Wade
    John Wade says:

    What a well written thoughtful take on this tragedy by an exceptionally qualified observer. I hope those investigating the accident interview you. Brought back memories of watching the 1971 San Diego Air Races with my Dad. He had flown Corsairs in WW 2 and was well into his airline career. I was 17 and just starting. Through Dads contacts we were allowed to tour the pits and meet some of the pilots. Sadly, one of those, Mike Geren, a young TWA pilot perished in a Bearcat that caught fire. A result of the engine being pushed beyond it’s capabilities. He died trying to save the plane rather then bailout. I’m guessing that incident was a warning that a 1000 mile unlimited pylon race maybe wasn’t such a great idea for old warbirds.
    Great use of the Fate is the Hunter analogy I might add.
    Can’t believe a couple people have the gall to suggest this was intentional. I guess that’s a sign of the times now, despite nothing to support that premise and apparently little knowledge what flying these warbirds entails they get on the Internet and attack good people. The pilots of these warbirds are keeping history alive and supporting our great country and those before us that fought for democracy. They deserve better than that.

    Reply
  19. Lucien d'Sa
    Lucien d'Sa says:

    We had a tragic accident in 2015 when a Hawker Hunter fighter jet crashed into the crowd at the Shoreham (UK ) airshow killing 11 innocent people on a public highway. Lessons were learnt which changed the format of airshows in the UK, especially involving vintage aircraft. A large section of the public love airshows. However, there are many who would like to see them banned for safety and environmental reasons. It is encumbent on those of us in the former category to be seen to be seen to be doing everything possible to ensure these airshows go on,

    Reply
  20. Colin Brown
    Colin Brown says:

    Very well written article and I appreciate the references to Ernie Gann. I think the only thing the CAF can be guilty of here is not considering the “what-if’s” to two formation “interwoven” displays. However well flown, and however responsible the pilots, this playbook was an accident waiting to happen. RIP and fly safe everyone.

    Reply
  21. Gerry Jurrens
    Gerry Jurrens says:

    Thank you for your well-written, first person, account of this horrific tragedy. I highly recommend this week’s AOPA Live YouTube piece by Richard McSpadden on the accident. May the pilots who died RIP.

    Reply
  22. John Marshall
    John Marshall says:

    To Paul Smith, Robert Cunningham and others with a similar mind-set. You just don’t get it. Calling that terrible accident intentional, and the warbird pilot community pilots idiots relegates you to a special category that should stay away from any and all aviation-related activities and refrain from all comment on the same. These rare airplanes are treasures, and part of an indelible part of out history. They air machines of war, not build to be especially safe (the B25 design, when officially accepted by the Airy Air Corps, was guaranteed for 50 missions or 200 hours, whatever came first), nor comfortable. There is no soundproofing, no air conditioning, no potty, no flight attendant. They are not flown by amateurs. They are lovingly maintained and flown by members of the Commemorative Air Force specifically to honor and remember the legacy of those who went before.
    The CAF Annual Airshow is meticulously planned, briefed and flown. Every conceivable risk is identified and mitigated. I know, because i have flown in that show, A famous philosopher once said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

    Reply
  23. Walt Barbo
    Walt Barbo says:

    I flew P-63 KingCobras in transition training before transferring to P-38s as a fighter pilot in WWII. And agree with comments, that in a climbing turn, that the B-17 would not have been visible to the P-63 pilot.

    Reply
  24. Steve Billings
    Steve Billings says:

    Does anyone know where I might see the names of the aviators? I probably didn’t know any of them…just want to know their names. Thanks.

    Reply
  25. Paul Harrison
    Paul Harrison says:

    I recall a regular article in an aviation magazine, and that article was named, “I learnt about flying from that…..”. IMHO, those who go down to the sky in aeroplane’s of any type are involved in a never-ending loop of learning, and a moment’s loss of attention in that learning loop will result in an outcome no rational person could ever want to experience. I’m an Aussie and I hold the American dream close to my heart, you are our dear friends and my gratitude to your nation knows no bounds. Know this……when I witnessed the video of that terrible accident I felt the anguish and pain, as you all do. Know also this: As a pilot myself, I learnt about flying from that.

    Reply
  26. I was there, too
    I was there, too says:

    Just to be clear, there are several factual errors in this man’s recollection, and his published statement. For instance, as has been pointed out, it was a flight of three fighters, not four, with Gunfighter in the lead, Red Tail second, and the P-63 third. Also, the B-17 was in the lead, followed by the B-24, the SB2C Helldiver, and then the PBJ Devil Dog, followed by B-25 Yellow Rose.
    It never looked to me like the P-63 was attempting a rejoin, he was simply the last in the fighter string and had to adjust for spacing as they stretched from tight formation to trail. To me, the mis-judgment was on how much room the fighters needed to change their formation and clear the bombers, obviously.

    Reply

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