Skydiving planes collide in Wisconsin, minor injuries

Two planes carrying skydivers collided in midair Saturday evening in far northwest Wisconsin, but no major injuries were reported.

Mike Robinson, an instructor and safety adviser for Skydive Superior, said he and 10 others escaped relatively unharmed after one plane crashed into the other during what he said was a common tandem formation.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Roland Herwig said the collision occurred about 6 p.m. at about 12,000 feet.

Robinson said he and four others were preparing to jump from the lead plane with the trailing plane hit their craft. He said the impact caused a fireball and sheared off the craft's right wing. Robinson said all five skydivers on his plane and four on the trailing plane were able to jump free.

"The pilot of our plane was very lucky to get out," he said, adding that he managed to escape using an emergency parachute.

Robinson said the pilot of the other plane was able to land the damaged craft back at Richard I. Bong Airport, where it took off. He said the pilot who escaped the destroyed plane was taken to an area hospital with minor injuries. Herwig said the lead plane broke into three parts, with debris landing on the airport property and an adjacent retail area.

Superior Police Department Deputy Chief Matt Markon said in a statement Saturday night that the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board were expected to arrive in the area on Sunday.

"We do this all the time," Robinson said. "We just don't know what happened for sure that caused this."