This mid-air collision occurred near Spokane, Washington, on the afternoon of July 23rd, 1944. Three Curtiss RA-25A "Shrike" aircraft (the Army's version of the naval "Helldiver") were in formation, and the two in the center and left collided. Aircraft from throughout the Army Air Forces were slated to fly during an airshow, sponsored by the Spokane Air Service Command, at a natural amphitheater north of Baxter General Hospital, an event with an estimated one hundred thousand onlookers in attendance, as well as a newsreel crew from Paramount.
The airplanes had been circling in an area to the north of Spokane waiting for their turn to fly past the crowd. After a flight of two Douglas A-24 "Dauntless" aircraft overflew the area, the formation of A-25s started to make their approach but still had not received permission to overfly the amphitheater. The flight of three made an S-turned and lengthened their flight path until they received approval. The three Shrikes then made a left diving turn and then a right diving turn toward the spectators. The left most aircraft turned into the center aircraft on the right turn, forcing both aircraft down into the valley below, spraying fuel and burning metal. Pilot 2Lt George E. Chrep and engineer-rated passenger Sgt. Joseph M. Revinskas were killed in the crash of RA-25A # 42-79804; pilot 2Lt William R. Scott and passenger Captain Ford K. Sayre, a noted snow skier on the east coast, were killed in the crash of RA-25A # 42-79826.
The footage was shot by the Paramount Pictures Newsreel crew and can be seen on a documentary titled "The Spectacle of Flight," as well as black & white stock footage in several movies. Stills from the newsreel feature heavily in the official mishap report.
This mystery was finally solved correctly by Anthony Mireles, of Illinois... Thanks a million, Anthony!