Pilot, passengers jump to safety as skydiving planes collide in Wisconsin

Posted at 6:31 PM, Nov 03, 2013
By Matt Smith and Joe Sutton


(CNN) — A weekend midair collision over northern Wisconsin sent one small plane careening into the ground while another limped safely back to the runway.

Fortunately, both planes were carrying skydivers — meaning that for the 11 people aboard the two aircraft, the collision resulted in nothing more than minor injuries to two of them, firefighters reported.

“It’s definitely a reminder of the danger of the sport that we all love,” Skydive Superior instructor Mike Robinson told CNN affiliate KQDS.

The crash happened Saturday evening over Superior, Wisconsin, near the Minnesota state line. It happened as the two planes were flying close by as the skydivers prepared to jump in formation, Superior Fire Department Battalion Chief Vern Johnson told CNN.

Robinson said the lead plane, which crashed, had four skydivers aboard along with its pilot; the trailing plane had five parachutists.

Johnson said the pilot of the lead plane told firefighters that before the jump, he heard a loud bang and his windshield shattered. The plane caught fire and broke up in midair, but the skydivers and the pilot all parachuted to safety.

“Everybody got out safely. The pilot got out safely, used his emergency parachute and landed,” Robinson said. “In the trail plane, all five jumpers got out of the airplane safely and landed safely.”

The pilot of the plane that crashed “was visibly bloodied about his face and shirt and had one hand wrapped in a garment, but was otherwise lucid, alert and oriented,” Johnson said. The pilot of the trailing plane landed safely and picked up the pilot of the crashed aircraft along the runway as he taxied in, Johnson said.

Another Superior Fire Department official, Battalion Chief Steve Edwards, said one other person also suffered minor injuries.

Skydive Superior posted a message on its Facebook page thanking supporters “during this very difficult time for us.

“The jumpers and pilots have been through a very surreal experience, and they are lucky and thankful to be alive,” it said.

CNN’s Janet DiGiacomo contributed to this report.

™ & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.