Superior, WI, United States (4E) – Two small planes carrying skydivers collided over Superior, Wisconsin on Saturday evening slightly hurting one pilot, whose plane broke up mid-air and caught fire before crashing in pieces to the ground.
All veteran skydivers were able to jump from both Cessna planes just as they collided at 12,000 feet and safely landed in an area at the Superior Airport while the pilot of the destroyed plane used an emergency parachute to land safely, according to Mike Robinson, a skydiving instructor who was among the jumpers. The pilot of the Cessna 182 suffered minor cuts and was taken to the hospital via ambulance.
The other plane, a Cessna 185, dived after the collision but its pilot, Blake Wedan, managed to land it safely at the Superior Airport despite its damaged propeller.
Robinson, 64, of Gnesen Township, told Startribune.com that the Cessna 185 was closely flying behind the Cessna 182 around 6 p.m. The Cessna 185 got caught in the wash of the wing of the Cessna 182 causing them to bump into each other.
The wings of the Cessna 182 immediately came off and the fuselage caught fire, said Robinson. Its four skydivers already outside the door on the step immediately jumped and avoided the debris from their broken plane.
The burning fuselage plummeted but the pilot bailed out in time using the emergency parachute.
The falling debris did not hurt anyone on the ground. The fuselage landed in the Head of the Lakes Fairground. A wing landed off an airport runway and the other, which caught fire, may have landed in or near Nemadji Golf Course, according to Robinson.
Five skydivers from the other plane also leapt from the door as the plane collided. The Cessna 185 dived several thousand feet before the pilot broke the fall and landed it safely.
Both planes are owned by Skydive Superior. It was the second incident involving the company this year. In July, two skydivers who jumped from its plane landed off the shore of Lake Superior and had to be rescued.