When two small airplanes crashed into each other 12,000 feet in the air near Lake Superior, the passengers knew exactly what to do: Jump.
Everyone involved - nine skydivers and two pilots - survived with nothing more than scrapes and bruises. The skydivers had been preparing to jump when the airplanes collided.
"We followed our instincts," Mike Robinson, an instructor and safety adviser for Skydive Superior, told The Star Tribune of Minneapolis. "We just jumped."
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The pilot of the first plane ejected himself and deployed an emergency parachute. The other pilot executed an emergency landing at the airport they took off from.
"We were just a few seconds away from having a normal skydive when the trail plane came over the top of the lead aircraft and came down on top of it," Robinson told The Associated Press. "It turned into a big flash fireball and the wing separated. ... The wing over our head was gone, so we just left."
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The skydivers, who had parachutes that could be steered, stayed clear of the falling debris.
"Looking around, we're seeing the wing that came off. We're seeing it's on fire and there are just parts of the airplane floating in the air with us," Robinson said. "We were falling faster than those parts ... So the concern was we get away from the crash area."
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Everyone landed safely, including the pilot whose emergency parachute could not be steered.
The lead plane broke into three parts, a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman said.
Photo: A skydiver. Credit: iStockPhoto