Two Planes Collided In Mid-Air Over the Weekend and Nobody Died

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Nov. 4 2013 10:36 AM

Two Planes Collided In Mid-Air Over the Weekend and Nobody Died

Here's a rather remarkable story from this weekend: Two single-engine airplanes collided in mid-air near the Wisconsin-Minnesota border on Saturday evening, sending one of the aircraft plummeting to the ground in flames while the other was forced to make an emergency landing—and yet all nine passengers and both pilots are alive and well today.

The reason the accident didn't turn fatal? The nine passengers were only moments from executing a group skydive; the pilot of the crashed plane, meanwhile, was able to deploy an emergency chute. Here's NBC News with the details from 64-year-old Mike Robinson, one of the skydivers involved in the incident:

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. ... All four [of the jumpers aboard the lead craft] 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 other aircraft, a Cessna 185 with five jumpers and a pilot on board, went into a steep dive, Robinson said. Three jumpers had been on the step on the aircraft's exterior, and two were able to jump immediately, but the third was pinned to the outside, he said. Eventually that person was able to leap, and two others inside also jumped. The pilot was able to pull out of the dive after losing several thousand feet, then landed that aircraft, although it suffered damage, Robinson said..
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The person who appears to have been injured the worst was the pilot of the plane that crashed. He reportedly suffered a few cuts and minor injuries during the ordeal but is said to be in relatively good shape given the near-miss. "The outcome for us was as good as it could be," Robinson, who has logged more than 900 jumps in his lifetime, told the network.

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

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