Skydivers survive mid-air plane crash

Impact and ‘flash fireball’ threw divers from planes, forced one pilot to eject and left them all parachuting through falling debris – yet no one suffered anything worse than minor injuries

A carefully coordinated skydive in the US almost ended in disaster on Saturday when two planes flying in formation crashed in mid-air.

Between them the aircraft were carrying nine highly-experienced skydivers, who were seconds away from jumping when the impact occurred.

Skydiving instructor Mike Robinson described the “big flash fireball” which engulfed one side of his plane at an altitude of 12,000 feet (3,650 metres), when the aircrafts’ paths crossed and one came down onto the other.

The force of the impact hurled many of the skydivers from their positions on their planes’ steps, while two others still inside managed to get to the door and escape.

Mr Robinson said that as the planes hit each other, “the wing [on his aircraft] separated”.

“All of us knew we had a crash,” he said. “The wing over our head was gone, so we just left.”

Once all the skydivers were clear, the pilot of Mr Robinson’s plane was able to eject – but the danger to the whole group was not yet over.

“Looking around, we're seeing the wing that came off. We're seeing it's on fire, and there are just parts of the airplane floating in the air with us,” he said.

“We were falling faster than those parts ... So the concern was we get away from the crash area.”

He added that as he was falling, he became worried that there was only one emergency parachute –indicating an ejected pilot – in the sky with him.

He was relieved to found out later that the pilot of the second plane was able to stay with the aircraft and land it.

Officials with the Federal Aviation Administration were in the area yesterday talking to those involved, and spokesman Roland Herwig said the cause of the incident was still being investigated.

All of the skydivers were instructors or coaches and had hundreds, if not thousands, of jumps under their belts. It was Mr Robinson's 937th jump.

“We do this all the time,” he said. “We just don't know what happened for sure that caused this.”

The nine skydivers were all able to steer their parachutes to the designated landing site, near Lake Superior in Wisconsin, and at worst suffered bruises and muscle injuries. The pilot who ejected could not steer his emergency chute, and suffered some minor injuries which required medical treatment.

“It might've been a lot worse,” Mr Robinson said. “Everybody, to a person, responded just as they should, including the pilots.”

Despite the scare, he said he would not hesitate to skydive again.

“Whenever the clouds and winds allow us to be up, we'll be jumping,” he said, although the company, Skydive Superior, is now without aircraft.

Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
News
people'When I see people who look totally different, it brings me back to that time in my life'
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
news
News
people

Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'

Arts and Entertainment
A photograph taken by David Redferm of Sonny Rollins
people
News
news

Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'

Extras
indybest
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Senior Research Fellow in Gender, Food and Resilient Communities

£47,334 - £59,058 per annum: Coventry University: The Centre for Agroecology, ...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker