The B-17's that are currently flying and restored are in better condition than they were when they left the factory...
When these airplanes were built they were never intended to fly longer than a few hours, certainly not decades. It was expected that they would be shot out of the sky, as WWII was a war of attrition, we overwhelmed the enemy with machinery.
Airshows and fly-ins showcasing our warbirds are a big part of what we do at Adventure Flight to share our Beechcraft 18, T6 Texan and N3N biplane with the world. These iconic aircraft have inspired people around the nation to learn more about American history, world history and aviation.
It doesn't matter how much experience one has, there are many factors involved with both the aircraft and aviating the aircraft especially when spectators are involved.
There is a fine balance between creating an energetic and spectacular show and operational safety, and inherent risk with what we do (flying 80 year old airplanes). For those of you interested in a behind the scenes of what may have happened, this youtube video is fairly comprehensive.
We do our best to mitigate the risks but shit happens, stuff breaks, its old metal, shoot even us pilots are old, either legacy pilots or pilots who can afford it.
The aviation community lost greats in Wings over Dallas, both birds and men, but this doesn't prevent us from wanting to continue to bring the world of aviation to communities around the nation, we simply must learn from these heartwrenching experiences, and move forward. The loss really lies in those left behind, as these aviators died doing what they love, which is more than so many of us can say.