Pilots survive mid-air plane crash over Alaska in the US

Both planes plunged into the forest but the men were taken out alive

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The Independent US

Two pilots have survived a mid-air collision over the US state of Alaska that sent both their planes plunging to the ground.

Rescuers found the mangled wreckage of the two-seater Piper PA -18 planes a mile apart in the forests of the Matanuska-Susitna (Mat-Su) Valley.

One pilot, Alaska Wildlife Trooper Levi Duell, 35, was taken to a regional hospital with moderate injuries after the crash at around 1pm local time on Saturday.

It took emergency crews two hours to free the second pilot, 52-year-old Jeffry Bara, who was airlifted to a larger hospital in Anchorage with serious injuries.

The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating the incident and has not yet given a cause of the collision, which happened near a private airport.

“It was a significant crash site,” a NTSB spokesperson told KTVA News.

"One witness said one of the wings actually separated from the airplane after the collision."

No passengers were on board either plane at the time.

The airspace around Wasilla has seen three crashes since 2006 and is “uncontrolled”, meaning pilots rely on eyesight to avoid other aircraft.

Officials hope that pilots use the same radio frequency to communicate with each other, KTUU news reported. That procedure was not followed in a 2011 crash that killed four people.

One of the aircraft involved in Saturday’s collision belonged to the Alaska State Wildlife Troopers, a division of the police who protect the environment and help search and rescue missions.

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