It's a still a raw and deadly mishap, and I'm sure everyone here is just as upset and perhaps even angry about how it happened. But, I don't think it's too early to make a few points and open up an inquiry.
The NTSB will of course conduct a full investigation and we will learn much about how this P-63 Kingcobra collided with a B-17, killing all the pilots onboard both aircraft. I have seen video from at least three different perspectives and what I saw troubles me deeply.
Doing airshows while in the Air Force, I remember the first thing the airshow organizers told the assembled pilots, that just the sight of the planes flying was more than enough to make the audience happy. We did not need to add to the thrills and risk turning the show into a tragedy.
My initial take is that this Dallas airshow was trying to mimic either a formation rejoin or even a beam attack by a fighter on a bomber. Clearly, the P-63 pilot came in with too high a combination of closing speed and angle, and sawed off the entire tail of the B-17. The video is disturbing to watch.
I sincerely hope increased consideration is given to how these shows are planned, and how flight plans are reviewed. These World War II airworthy aircraft are flying treasures, and the people are thrilled just to see them fly. I seriously wonder if we really need to ramp up the awe factor and try to recreate dogfights and other tactical maneuvers overhead civilians?
I certainly don’t consider this a mere “mishap”. The P-63 was flown in a criminally reckless manner. This was almost as bad as the BUFF crash at Fairchild.
My MC-130 crews performed in multiple airshows and fly overs.
My military experience was limited to tactical jets, so I can't speak to doing single-ship flyovers in transport aircraft. But I will say that the idea of trying to do a rejoin between a bomber and a fighter over show center at an air show scares my fighter mind to death. There would have to be a boatload of planning, briefing, and practice before I'd have any part of such an event. I wonder how many times these folks had practiced this before the show.
But any way you look at it, the P-63 Pilot clearly lost sight of the B-17 and violated a cardinal rule of formation flying by trying to kill the closure with bank and losing sight of lead behind the wing rather than rolling out keeping sight, and taking the overshoot like an aviator by spitting out, stabilizing, and then receiving permission to drop down and rejoin properly from the inside.