Two single-engine aircraft carrying skydivers collided 12,000 feet above Superior, Wis., on Saturday evening, sending one plane plummeting to earth in flames – but all nine jumpers and both pilots survived, said one of the jumpers.
The only person injured, except for bumps and bruises, was the pilot of the plane that crashed. He used an emergency chute to escape the falling aircraft but suffered cuts, Mike Robinson, who was aboard that plane, told NBC News.
The incident occurred as a Cessna 185 was closely following a Cessna 182 for a maneuver called a tracking dive, Robinson said, in which a lead jumper is followed across the sky by the other jumpers.
Robinson, 64, of Duluth, Minn., said the weather was good – lingering clouds had dissipated. “The sun was just getting ready to set, it was our last load of the day,” he said. “It was just a perfect time to be up in the sky.”
He was one of four jumpers aboard the lead aircraft. All four were outside the door on the step ready to leap from 12,000 feet when the trailing plane collided with their aircraft – although Robinson said it is unclear just why that happened. The wings on his aircraft separated and the fuselage caught fire, and all four jumpers immediately leaped to safety.
The pilot had on an emergency parachute and was able to get out of the plummeting fuselage, although he suffered cuts to his hands and face, Robinson said.