She was engaged to be remarried, in charge of her own business, and performing her signature move.
Jane Wicker appeared to be on top of her game and world Saturday moments before she and pilot Charlie Schwenker were killed in a fiery crash witnessed by thousands at the Vectren Dayton Air Show.
Wicker, who had started wingwalking in 1990 by answering a classified advertisement in the Washington Post, left it for about a decade in 1999 after a marriage with her husband and business partner failed, according to her wingwalk.org website.
Her first aerobatic flight as a birthday present.
When she returned to the profession, “she wanted to take command, so she bought her own airplane,” said Bryan Regan whose Team Aeroshell was waiting to perform when the plane crashed.
“I had a lot of respect for her,” said Regan, who described her as “kind of a trailblazer.”
“She’s one of two wingwalkers I know of who bought their own airplanes and put together their own program,” Regan said.
Like Wicker, who was an FAA budget analyst, pilot Schwenker was a seasoned professional.
An aerobatic pilot since 1990, he won the Canadian National Aerobatic Championship and had extensive experience in the Stearman 450-HP biplane used in the act.
Both were connected with the Flying Circus, an aerobatics organization based in Bealton, Va., and Wicker was also an accomplished aerobatics pilot.
The romantic story of Wicker’s relationship with fiance Rock Skowbo began when they met just as she took possession of “Aurora,” the plane that was destroyed in the crash
A former United Airlines pilot, Skowbo also helped to take care of the aircraft, has been training as one of the show’s pilots. They planned to be married next year at an airshow.
In an interview on her website, Wicker mentioned her children.
“My children were raised at airshows and they have seen me wingwalking since they were born,” she said. “They have also been around during all the training, meticulous preflights, practices and shows. I have always tried to teach them that what we do is dangerous and it should never be done, like so many things in life, without proper instruction and training.”