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Squawks & HeadlinesExclusive images show skydivers' terrifying collision and chaotic plunge

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Exclusive images show skydivers' terrifying collision and chaotic plunge

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The cameras strapped to the skydivers' helmets were supposed to memorialize their perfectly timed jumps and exhilarating descent from two small planes to the earth 12,000 feet below. (usnews.nbcnews.com) More...

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mpmt06
Mark Thomas 3
Having only made 10 jumps myself , it always amazes me how the naysayers jump right up to denounce this or that. Until you've done it and pushed through that fear of your first solo free fall you should just shut up. The media sensationalize everything don't they? It is a risky thing to climb outside an airplane and step off! All jumpers know the risks. These will be tales told for years over a cold beer and good friends. Fantastic everyone is okay!
akayemm
Er.A.K. Mittal 1
Dear friend Mark Thomas, to echo your sentiments about the perils, I remember my visit to para training school of the Indian Army during my college days some 45+years ago. The very first couple of steps shown were the stance and action at the time of jumping out and second at touch down.
I was amazed and horrified when we were told IF at touch down the stance is not right one can end up with a broken ankle or even a broken leg !
Times have changed but basics might not have !
So much of perils and the corresponding training that have to be under gone ! We all must keep it in mind before any adverse criticism.
MHR ( my humble request)
jpreston1
Josh Preston 5
Amazing and nothing short of miraculous that all were able to get out. As a jumper and pilot, I can't imagine ditching an aircraft as PIC and watching it fall away from you.
There have been times that we've had 5 guys out on the strut of a 182, in fact it is a normal occurrence at a Cessna DZ. I have been involved in many formation tracking dives and can't remember once losing sight of the other aircraft(s).
Very happy everyone is safe, but really sucks that skydiving is once again represented negatively in the media...
Doobs
Dee Lowry 2
I heard that all this chaos took place in 47 seconds. That had to be the longest 47 seconds they will ever have in their lives. I would definately kiss "mother earth" after experiencing something like that. God blessed them all.
bbabis
Bill Babis 2
Great story for all to talk about for many many years. I don't know if the lead aircraft came up or the trailing aircraft went down but aircraft position is difficult to control with people climbing all over it. It looks like the jumpers were starting to exit and airflow gets seriously disturbed. Also, if the lower aircraft dropped jumpers first, the pilot may not have adjusted for the sudden weight loss correctly. With all the cameras we may find out. The most interesting thing to me was the stability of the Cessna that lost its right wing. Wether the pilot the aircraft or both, that stability greatly increased the chances of any remaining jumpers and the pilot to get out. A high G spin would have trapped anyone left inside.
jerslice
Unreal video. Scary stuff.

[This poster has been suspended.]

bbabis
Bill Babis 5
It all depends on why they exited Phil. I haven't had a passenger want to jump out of an airplane yet.
oowmmr
oowmmr 2
The Number one pilot stopped flying the airplane as he was engrossed in watching the jumpers step out. KEEP FLYING THE AIRPLANE!!!
treehouse4rent
Carlos Bea 2
Glad for the outcome. I've always found the selective praise of God, when things go well, disturbing though. I'm a Christian too. It reminds me of the individual who was praising God from his hospital room for protecting him during the Colorado movie massacre while many others, including a 6 year old child, died.
AAaviator
AAaviator 1
"negative, ghost rider"! The number 1 pilot (lead) was not at fault. Why would you say "keep flying the airplane"? what evidence suggests to you that he wasn't? The only time he stopped flying the aircraft was after the wing came off!
Doobs
Dee Lowry 2
Being that both airplanes were "high-wing-fixed-wing...what ever happened to the fundamentals of flying? Dip to the left- dip to the right- look up- look down...check your surroundings before you make your move. The evidence is in the Helmet camera. One can see that the ( top ) pilot turned his head to the right and watched the jumpers take their positions...one, holding on to the wing strut.
I have to agree with "oowmmr". Unfortunately, the pilots were not in sync. Diagnosis: IMO...
Pilot Error.
AAaviator
AAaviator 1
Dee, you're referencing the wrong airplane. The airplane that oowmmr thought was the "number one" was actually the trail plane. The trail plane caused the collision by being high and forward. He lost sight and hit the lead airplane. I have decades of experience in both skydiving and formation flying. Trust me - I know what I'm talking about.
Doobs
Dee Lowry 2
AAaviator...You're right. I did catch that after the fact. So I stand corrected. Thanx ;)
Ruger9X19
Ruger9X19 1
Well on second thought that might not be safest for the jumpers.
sparkie624
sparkie624 1
WOW... that is amazing...
maddryade
Mad Malgras 1
yes phew phew !
bcarlson56649
Bob Carlson 1
In a jump like this wouldn't it make more sense for the planes to fly side by side? Each pilot would have the other plane in view at all times. Or is there some reason not to do this?
Thebobit
I used to go flying occasionally with a friend and one day he asked if I wanted to go skydiving with him. I said, "Sure, I'll go up and watch you jump out but there is no way in hell you are going to get me to jump out of a perfectly good airplane. I have nothing against it - it is just something I'd never do!" This would have been the exception seeing as how it instantly wasn't "perfectly good" any more! Having had many nightmares in the past about falling from high places, I probably would have been dead before I hit the ground. ;-) I suspect the NTSB will attribute this to 'pilot error'.

While I may think they were crazy in the first place (but, to each his own), I am glad no one was killed.
jpreston1
Josh Preston 1
Sorry, 4 guys out in a 182, 5 guys out in a 205
sparkie624
sparkie624 1
WOW.... I hope those guys know how lucky they were... That was a crazy stunt to begin with.
grablo
Roger Graham 1
Isn't it time that a "cheap" downward facing CCTV be fitted to aeroplanes?
maddryade
Mad Malgras 1
PHEW !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
maddryade
Mad Malgras 1
PHEW !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
chickm90
Very good pictures. They are shocking.
Ruger9X19
Ruger9X19 1
Why fly formation high and aft of the other aircraft? Seems like it would be smarter for the trailing aircraft to be below the lead aircraft.
bcarlson56649
Bob Carlson 1
Just looking at the video and pics for about the fifth time. You notice more each time. How did the RIGHT wing of the lead plane get torn off, when the trailing plane hit the lead plane on the LEFT side? Could it be that the weight of a number of jumpers all hanging on to that right wing strut was enough to tear off that strut upon impact?
amadofuentes
amado fuentes 1
verry good
eaordonez1
Chris Ordonez 1
WOW!! Enough said!
Darrens
Darren Shields 7
I'll tell you why. You'll have an aircraft flying through a formation of jumpers if you do. I was a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division when my unit lost a trooper to just the scenario you described. In a multiple formation of C-141's the proper alignment is for each aircraft following the lead to be offset and above the preceding aircraft. On this particular night, one of the pilots of a trailing aircraft for unknown reason couldn't maintain station and kept dropping down below the lead aircraft. The first two passes were aborted because of this. The third and fatal pass the pilot was in the proper position at the start of the pass but as paratroopers began exiting the aircraft the pilot of that incident aircraft again lost altitude until they were just below the paratroopers altitude. Result? Trooper 1 facing the direction of flight had his canopy cut away by the incident aircraft. The soldier tumbled all the way to the ground and was unable to deploy his reserve. Trooper 2 was facing the oncoming incident aircraft and was waiting with his hand on his reserve handle. He successfully deployed his reserve when the incident aircraft cut his main away. Trooper 3 had his main canopy compromised by the wingtip of the incident aircraft and deployed his reserve as a precaution.

A bit of a long winded reply I know but there are time tested reasons for doing things the way they do. I was on the firing squad at the funeral of the trooper that died in that incident and I promise you, you never want to do that for a friend who shouldn't have died. I'm not jumping on you. I'm just still a bit sensitive about it.
AAaviator
AAaviator 3
These were Cessna's - only 1 engine and on the nose, not on the wing (like the 141) - also, both planes were (right) side exit, not tailgate (like the 141). The trail plane was at fault IMHO - NEVER LOSE SIGHT OF LEAD! No matter how erratic lead might be, always be in a position to react. For the type of aircraft involved, the trail plane should have been on the left side of lead, slightly low, slightly aft, with lateral wingtip clearance from lead's left wing. That way, unless the laws of physics are repealed, there is no way jumpers exiting from the right side door of lead would ever conflict with the trail aircraft. I've flown formation for years in many different types of aircraft, been skydiving since 1977. This event should have NEVER happened. And since everyone lived, I'll just say, the video was awesome!
Ruger9X19
Ruger9X19 0
First, thank you for your service. The 82nd are the best warfighters this country has. A good friend of mine was in the 82nd Signal Bn. It saddens me to hear of the loss.

On the topic at hand, I realized my mistake a moment after hitting the post button, so I replied to my comment with, "Well on second thought that might not be safest for the jumpers." It's somewhere down below in the comments as I inadvertently typed it into the wrong text box, and there seems to be no way to edit your responses after posting.

I still think there has to be a safer formation for those involved than what appears in the video. The pilot takes his eye off the lead aircraft to look at the exiting jumpers then the lead aircraft appears to be not in the pilots line of sight for at least 7 sec. before the impact. I would think if the lead aircraft was getting larger in the windshield the pilot would have reacted and avoided the incident. Maybe, this one is entirely on the trailing pilot being distracted and not a fundamental problem with the formation. One moment of distraction almost cost 11 people their lives.
akayemm
Er.A.K. Mittal -3
I am no aviator, much less a para trooper. Yet I believe that when you are training to be a stunt/acrobatic diver and practicing for formations, the diver/s or the aircraft pilot CAN or MAY make a wrong judgement of precision. And wham !
These guys were lucky. They got away cheaply. No loss of life or limb. Just a bit of machine(insured I hope?) !
TorstenHoff
Torsten Hoff 3
The jumpers are going to go down and back -- you don't really want the second aircraft there.
tibwark
the wing plane was to the left of the lead plane, if they were flying formation low and slightly aft there would be no conflict with the divers since they were releasing from the right side of the plane
reuben
Reuben Smith -8
Lol... That would make a mess all over his windshield.
tduggan2010
Tim Duggan 1
The airplane that landed intact was a C-185, wasn't it? It is shown near the end of the video clip. Couldn't quite catch the model of the destroyed airplane, will need to watch the video several more times. Possibly a 206? If it were a 205, then it was pretty darned old. They were only made for two model years, '63 and '64.

Update...found another article, the company "Skydive Superior" only owned two Cessnas (the article misspelled "Cessna" as "Cesna"! LOL). The 185 that landed safely, and the other was actually a 182.

Question for you skydivers out there: Do they get a waiver to operate four-seat airplanes like the 182/185 at more than legal occupant capacity??? Or, are some guys' licenses now gonna get looked at?

Article I found: http://www.northlandsnewscenter.com/news/local/Exlusive-Video--230601871.html
james801
James Farnsworth Staff Writer 1
WigzellRM
Ralph Wigzell 1
Good job that pilot had a parachute. i don't know of too many GA pilots (except aerobatics) who carry one.
bbabis
Bill Babis 1
I don't know if it is mandatory for jump plane pilots to have parachutes but I wouldn't fly a jump plane without one. Too many things can happen with jumpers and their equipment that will seriously affect or disable a small aircraft not to mention events such as this one.
tduggan2010
Tim Duggan 1
I'd like those who fly, or jump, to chime in on this.

When we fly aerobatics, we must wear a parachute. In the case of this story, EACH airplane was carrying more than its certificated number of "passengers"...whether due to exemption, or ignoring regulations.

For a "Jump Plane" pilot, it is presumed that the Jumpers will exit, and then the lone pilot will successfully land, in order to repeat the next flight. Since we KNOW that at least one PILOT had an emergency parachute (he was the one who survived from the destroyed Cessna 182)...this should give everyone a point to ponder...."WHY" did the pilot of the Cessna 182 wear a parachute??

("IS" is because he knew, in advance, that he was operating an airplane certified to carry ONLY four adults, but had five or six (including himself) onboard? IS there an FAA operating exemption for this company involved to allow the airplanes to be operated above their normal certificated capacity??
PhotoFinish
PhotoFinish 3
I would figure that they may may modified the plane (eg. remove the seats and other unnecessary weight and gotten an exemption for increased jumper capacity). [It's mostly from the innocent until proven guilty mindset, and the knowledge that te FAA will take action against their tickets otherwise. Afterall, they have plenty of video evidence in this case.]

That said, some certified jumper friends jump all over the world, but have previously said that they will not jump from certain drop zones because the outfits that run these sites have a rep for cutting corners safety wise. I can't speak for this DZ specifically, but will update if I get any new specific info.
tduggan2010
Tim Duggan 1
Thanks for that info and POV, 'PhotoFinish'. I understood already the removal of the "normal" seats for a typical Cessna 182 or C-185 passenger configuration. And I agree that absent any waivers that this company (now lacking ANY airworthy jump airplanes) may have had, the FAA actions upon the pilots involved will no doubt come forth.
akayemm
Er.A.K. Mittal 1
Thumbs up, my friend PhotoFinish !
Well said, timely reminder !
petesjet1
Peter McLaughlin -1
Not to get religious no anyone;but praise God no one was killed.Ican't imagine the fright of seeing the other plane coming at you that fast.Kudos to both pilots and jumpers for surviving.Incredible video!
tduggan2010
Tim Duggan 0
Invoking a supernatural entity is illogical.

This case was simply survivable, pure chance. No "miracle" required, nor imaginary deities.
akayemm
Er.A.K. Mittal 3
Dear friend,Tim Duggan, like you I too am a nonbeliever of sorts.
But it is words like chance or luck which become synonyms of supernatural for those who believe!
:-)
rmfg
Rob Gibbs 2
Yea...adult fairy tails
btweston
btweston 0
Pretty rad.
pthomas745
Pa Thomas -1
I am almost as tired of headlines for this video as I am of Christmas commercials. Only 49 more days to Xmas!!!
Pileits
Pileits -1
Can't stand commercial's that precede video's, I closed the page as soon as the commercial started.
sparkie624
sparkie624 3
LOL, I missed that... I have the ADTRAP and that part got filtered.... I hate those as well.
tduggan2010
Tim Duggan 1
Can't stand posters who use apostrophes to denote plurals.

OK? There! (tee hee).....
vanbess
vanbess -5
another reason not to go and jump from perfectly good airplanes. Because Jumping might lead to an unusable one requiring a jump
sparkie624
sparkie624 10
The last guy to jump had a good reason... He was not in a "perfectly good airplane" :)
k9wrangler
Karl Scribner 2
I always likened it to running your car into a tree to see if the seatbelt works.
btweston
btweston -2
Good call. Let's just stay at home and judge people on the internet.