Eleven people were involved in a dramatic mid-air collision between two planes in northwest Wisconsin over the weekend. None of the nine skydivers or two pilots was seriously injured.
The two planes were owned by a company called Skydive Superior. They were carrying skydivers who were going to perform a maneuver called a formation skydive, where they leap from two separate planes at the same time, said skydiving instructor Mike Robinson, who was one of the last people to jump from the damaged plane.
"The trail plane came over the top of the lead plane and then came down on it," Robinson said. "The impact of that collision caused the right wing of the lead plane to come off in a fireball."
Robinson said the skydivers knew that they were in danger from the debris.
"What skydivers do is we fly our bodies in the air, so we can control a lot of our body position," Robinson said. "We all just turned away from the crash site and just tracked away as fast as we could to get away from it."
Although Robinson said a few of the skydivers were slightly banged up, they all avoided serious injury. The pilot of the damaged plane used an emergency parachute to reach the ground safely. The second pilot was able to land the plane without further incident. No bystanders were injured by debris.
"It's amazing to me that there can be such a collision and people came out of it so well, I think we're all just very lucky," Robinson said. "The key to me is that we all responded the way we needed to when we needed to, how we deal with the trauma afterwards is very much an individual thing."
Robinson estimated about half the skydivers were wearing cameras. He said Skydive Superior negotiated a two-week exclusive deal with NBC to use the video. After that, Robinson said the video would be available to the public.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the accident.