A video clip that shows pilots and passengers onboard a skydiving plane jumping off seconds before a disastrous mid-air collision has again gone viral on social media.
The accident that took place in November 2013 in Wisconsin resulted in one plane crash-landing on the ground while the other managed to somehow land safely on the runway. A total of 11 passengers, including 2 pilots, were onboard the two aircraft involved in the accident. Miraculously, all of them had gotten away without any serious injuries.
The video clip that resurfaced almost eight years was shared by @Idontknowyoucuh on Twitter on September 21, 2021, and has received around 276,000 likes already. Close to 61,700 people have retweeted the video within a short span of 3 days.
THIS SOME OF THE WILDEST SH*T EVER CAUGHT ON CAMERA ?? pic.twitter.com/IpBo1VAXKD
— Theory? (@Idontknowyoucuh) September 21, 2021
The comments section of the tweet was filled with netizens inquiring about the safety of the people involved in the accident and making humorous remarks on the choice of the song overlay.
When asked about the incident in November 2013, skydiving instructor Mike Robinson, who was onboard the flight, told The Guardian that it was supposed to be a routine jump with the two planes flying in formation. “We do this all the time[…] We just don’t know what happened for sure that caused this” he had said.
He had narrated that the skydivers in the lead aircraft were moments away from diving when the trail plane came over the top of their aircraft and hit it. The impact of the hit knocked off 3 skydivers who were ready to jump off the trail plane.
The other two inside the same plane were able to jump off, while the pilot steered the damaged aircraft to safely land at the Richard I Bong Airport. All people in Robinson’s plane were able to escape mid-air, including the pilot, who ejected himself just in time and used the emergency parachute.
While all the skydivers’ parachutes allowed them to steer away from falling fiery debris and towards the planned landing spot, the pilot’s emergency parachute didn’t allow it. He landed elsewhere and suffered minor injuries.
Skydiving in the US is a fairly safe activity. According to the United States Parachute Association’s (USPA) records, in 2019, out of approximately 3.3 million jumps, there were only 15 fatal accidents. However, as a whole, skydive planes have a higher accident rate compared to aviation planes.
Recreational aircraft, such as the ones involved in this accident, tend to be small and quick. Once in a blue moon, an unfamiliar aircraft approaching from an unexpected direction can end up in another aircraft’s blind spot, setting both planes up for a mishap.
This wasn’t the case with the aircraft seen in this clip, though. Both planes were flying in a predecided formation. The pilot of the trailing plane, Blake Wedan, had the responsibility to maintain visual contact with the lead airplane. If he lost sight of his lead, he had to immediately exit the formation till he regained visual contact.
However, the video shows that just before the impact, the trailing plane approached the lead from above, thus remaining in the other pilot’s blind spot. It would seem that the trailing pilot had lost sight of the lead aircraft, and then either didn’t notice this or failed to realize that it could be an issue.
Whatever the cause of the incident might be, the 11 involved, and all the people that watched the story back then and even now, are jubilant about the miraculous escape. A couple of days after the incident, while being interviewed on NBC’s “The Today Show” with the other 10, Wedan said, “It’s kind of a joke now, but it was actually one of my better landings”.
Surprisingly, on the same show, every last one of the people involved put up their hand when told, “raise your hands now if you’d get back in a plane and skydive”, stunning the host quite a bit.