FORT WAYNE, Ind. (NBC33) – It was a close call in the sky during what was supposed to be a routine formation skydiving jump in Wisconsin.
But it turned out to be anything but.
For a reason not yet known, two planes collided in air, sending the pilots and skydivers into a panic. NBC News has collected multiple angles of the crash, including some from the divers’ viewpoint. The video is breath taking.
We talked to a local skydiving group – Skydive Fort Wayne – to get their reaction to the accident. One of the first things they said was how lucky the divers were to have a happy ending with everybody surviving the accident.
After showing them some of the video clips from the divers’ helmets, owner Tod Molter noticed a few things that may have gone wrong during the jump, but was quick to point out that a number of factors could have come into play that can't be seen from the video alone.
One thing however that really lingered in his mind was how the planes seemed to be out of position.
"You'll have your lead plane and your trail plane,” Molter explained. “Your trail plane will be back to the left and a little low, that way the jumpers as they come out they can look up underneath the other plane and see the feet of the others. What it looked like happened was one plane was trying to slow down for another plane. As the jumpers were crawling out onto the step they got what is called paresthetic drag. With all the jumpers out there it pulls the plane from the air hitting them."
He went on to say to fix that, the pilot will typically steer the plane the other direction to balance everything out.
But it was the quick thinking of the divers and pilots that likely saved their own lives.
"In skydiving, it's what I love about skydivers, they are some of the most 'fly by the seat of your pants' people there are. They can react to anything and this shows you exactly what I'm talking about. This happened, they kept their composure - you heard one guy scream like a little girl, but his head was right by a fireball. They all kept their composure, they got out of the airplane, and they made things happen."
He also stressed that communication is key in a jump like this. The divers constantly talk to each other to ensure they are all on the same page, and pilots keep in contact to avoid a disaster like this from happening.
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