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Ohio air show resumes with moment of silence after deadly stunt

By Kim Palmer

Cleveland (Reuters) - An Ohio air show resumed on Sunday with a moment of silence for a pilot and a stunt woman killed during a wing-walking trick a day earlier when their biplane crashed and burst into flames.

Organizers of the Vectren Dayton Air Show in Dayton honored stuntwoman Jane Wicker and her pilot, Charlie Schwenker, who died when their Boeing Stearman crashed on Saturday while doing aerobatics at the show.

Video of the incident replayed on television and the Internet showed that at the time of the crash, the duo appeared to have been executing a stunt in which the vintage plane flips as Wicker is out on one of its wings.

The plane crashed into a grassy area before Schwenker could pull out of the stunt.

"There was a significant explosion. There was smoke and fire. The announcers had the kids look away," said Michael Emoff, chairman of the 39th annual show. "The weather was fine. Clearly something went wrong."

No one on the ground was injured, organizers said.

Wicker began her career in 1989 as a pilot and had recently returned to wing walking after an injury to her lung and spleen. Unlike most wing walkers, she did not use a safety line.

Wicker announced in May she planned to marry pilot Rock Skowbo at an air show in 2014. The ceremony was to take place while the two were in flight, according to her website, wingwalkwedding.com.

Schwenker started flying sailplanes in 1975, and competition aerobatics in 1990, according to Flyingcircusairshow.com.

Saturday's incident was the latest in a string of deadly air show accidents in recent years - including one at Dayton six years ago - that have raised questions about the safety of such events.

John Cudahy, president of the International Council of Air Shows trade group, said such crashes are becoming less common but still happen twice per year on average.

The Federal Aviation Administration, the National Transportation Safety Board and local authorities were investigating the cause of the crash.

At a Sunday afternoon press conference, Jason Aquilera, investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board, said the board would issue a report at the end of the week with the "facts of the case" but cautioned the investigation could take six months to a year to complete.

"We go in with an open mind. Right now there is nothing to rule out and everything is on the table," Aquilera said.

(Editing by Edith Honan and Bill Trott)

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