UPDATED: Skydiving Planes Collide Over Wisconsin, Occupants Jump to Safety
UPDATED: 5:57pm PST Nov. 4
NBC News has an exclusive video of the collision from the helmet camera of one of the skydivers.
Two skydiving planes, a Cessna 185 and Cessna 182, collided mid-air over the weekend in Wisconsin, forcing all onboard, minus the pilot of one of the planes, to jump for their lives as one plane fell to the ground and the other made an emergency landing.
"It's definitely a reminder of the danger of the sport that we all love," Skydive Superior instructor Mike Robinson said.
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 said.
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.
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.
Skydive Superior posted this statement regarding the accident on their Facebook page:
All of us at Skydive Superior want to thank all of our friends for your expressions of concern and support during this very difficult time for us. We appreciate you all very much. The jumpers and pilots have been through a very surreal experience, and they are lucky and thankful to be alive. We are working very closely with the media to get the accurate story out, and so far they have done a very good job. We will continue to appreciate your support. Thank you.
Photo courtesy Steve Kuchera/The News-Tribune.