Sunday, June 23, 2013

Jane Wicker - Spirit of Lillian Boyer

Extreme heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of wingwalker Jane Wicker and pilot Charlie Schwenker who went down yesterday in Ohio:

Ohio air show resumes after stuntwoman, pilot die  (USAtoday, 23 June 2013)

Incredibly sad to see the great Aurora go down, taking out such a vibrant person and her pilot. Jane truly possessed the spirit of Lillian Boyer, whom I wikified in 2008. She captured what drove her to do this line of work in her last blog post:
Why do I do this? There is nothing that feels more exhilarating or freer to me than the wind and sky rushing by me as the earth rolls around my head. My soul is fed by the air and I get a complete sense of fulfillment by not only the experience, but by challenging myself and doing something so uniquely different. I’m alive up there. To soar like a bird and touch the sky puts me in a place where I feel I totally belong. It’s the only thing I’ve done that I’ve never questioned, never hesitated about and always felt was my destiny. I’m not the type of person that is satisfied by just sitting still and watching Monday night football. I need to be active and see and do new things.
May we all find something in our lives that exhilarates us and compels us to keep at it, seek challenges and not just sit around spectating, passively entertaining ourselves. I'm absolutely certain Jane would have wanted the show to continue as it did. I'm even more certain that she and Lillian enjoyed watching it together from Heaven :)

Here's a great video of Jane Wicker airshows from the 2012 season, put together by her crew chief Brian Rosenstein and posted on her twitter account this past May. Jane gave some interviews here and here just before the Dayton Air Show where she explained how she got into wing walking: "In 1990 I answered an ad in the newspaper that said, 'Wing walker wanted. No experience necessary.'" Very similar to how Lillian Boyer got into it. Interesting historical note: Lillian died in 1989 (age 88).

We owe it to Jane to comb through the wreckage of the Aurora piece by piece and review the videos to try as best we can to figure out what took it down. Investigation is ongoing. There are more Jane Wickers and Lillian Boyers out there, some not even born yet, but with equally fearless spirits. Gotta keep the skies safe for them.


  1. Here's a video of the crash (warning: graphic). Scroll down to see a separate video of an interview with Jane just before the Dayton show.

    Here's some speculation from a person (apparently with some airplane experience) who posted the following comment on the Jane Wicker Airshow FB page: "It looks like the pilot stalled the plane while inverted, slow with a high angle of attack. The left wing simply stopped flying. It could be that he caught a gust of tail-wind, but more likely he just let it get too slow. Flying inverted at 110 mph with a person hanging on the wing at an altitude of 15 ft is suicidal. Condolences to the families of the wing walker and pilot. - Joe Sawyer"

  2. Social media reaction
    * Storify by bigguyd
    * Twitter streams: #DaytonAirShow and #JaneWicker
    * Jane Wicker Airshow presence on FB and Twitter