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Skydiving plane collision.
November 6, 2013 11:40 AM   Subscribe

Skydivers' planes collide. Everybody survives. More footage and interviews.
posted by kmz (37 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
NBC News has joined the ranks of organizations such as the National Enquirer and TMZ with their recent checkbook journalism.
posted by peeedro at 11:45 AM on November 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


So, who was at fault in the accident. Looks like the pilot of the plane that was flying above the other one.

Amazing how small video cameras are enabling us to record and share so many things.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:50 AM on November 6, 2013


I imagine GoPro will be buying the rights to that video shortly.
posted by pwnguin at 11:50 AM on November 6, 2013


Yahoo News has it without the massive branding lead-in and horrible overlays.

It's impressive that the pilot of the destroyed plane managed to escape safely.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:51 AM on November 6, 2013


Holy shit. I'm glad everybody survived.

Unfortunate that there was bad enough piloting involved for one plane to (apparently) descend on top of another and none of the skydivers who could see it were able to alert the pilot. They were incredibly lucky to be able to get out of the plane that caught fire and broke up. The G forces involved in suddenly not being in level flight can be immense.

That said, shit happens sometimes. The NTSB will investigate and lessons will be learned, and the FAA might even make some new rules, because that's how we do flying in this country.
posted by wierdo at 11:52 AM on November 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


So, who was at fault in the accident. Looks like the pilot of the plane that was flying above the other one.

More likely the plane below. I can't watch this with sound right now, but from the video it looks like the plane above is flying straight-and-level while the jumpers get in to place and the one below climbs into it.

Looks like the tail number for the surviving plane is N94059, which matches the FAA's registration information for that number. No NTSB docket yet, but I'll check back in a week or two. No tail number I can see for the other plane, but I believe they're both Cessna 185s - if they came from the same jumping outfit, it's probably this one.
posted by backseatpilot at 11:57 AM on November 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


This was incredibly avoidable. There's absolutely no excuse for those pilots not knowing how close their aircraft are to each other. I do know that many skydiving pilots are doing it for their logbooks: i.e. getting paid little or nothing to clock more hours and takeoffs and landings. I wouldn't go so far as to generalize about the experience and skill level of these pilots from that but in this case at least one and reasonably both of them are wholly culpable.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:59 AM on November 6, 2013


And this is the company that operates N94059. They don't have any photos of their other planes that show the tail numbers, unfortunately, but that one is clearly visible in at least one picture.
posted by backseatpilot at 12:04 PM on November 6, 2013


Changed my mind - based on this image the other accident plane is actually N70520.
posted by backseatpilot at 12:06 PM on November 6, 2013


Changed my mind - based on this image the other accident plane is actually N70520.

fwiw...here is a photo from their gallery that appears to confirm that number.

Its a pretty severe angle, but if you zoom in it is readable.
posted by lampshade at 12:10 PM on November 6, 2013


Paying for video footage isn't exactly "checkbook journalism.". Almost all documentaries, news magazine shows, etc. license footage and photos ( not from their own archives, of course) for use, and paying for amateur footage isn't quite the same as paying for an interview or story rights.
posted by Ideefixe at 12:12 PM on November 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


"This video has been removed by the user. Sorry about that."

fyi....looks like the YT clip has been pulled.
posted by lampshade at 12:13 PM on November 6, 2013


It's more than just video footage. FTA - "NBC News has locked up exclusive interviews", and "ABC News said it was involved in the bidding for the video, but it pulled out 'as soon as it became clear that these interviews were tied directly to cash payments.'"
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 12:14 PM on November 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


the crash was just across the way from where I live. haven't really watched too much of it, but from conversations it sounds like it wasn't too terribly far away from the refinery over there, which would have been pretty horrible.
posted by edgeways at 12:24 PM on November 6, 2013


Are those disclaimers that they make everyone sign before skydiving broad enough to cover even these kinds of incidents? I suppose they are, but damn, there's no excuse for the pilots having so little situational awareness.
posted by ceribus peribus at 12:28 PM on November 6, 2013


"Amazing how small video cameras are enabling us to record and share so many things."

You'd think we'd finally have some decent footage of UFO's and Yeti by now.
posted by klarck at 12:31 PM on November 6, 2013 [9 favorites]


there's no excuse for the pilots having so little situational awareness

The investigation is probably ongoing, there are multiple causes besides pilot error. Unless that has already been determined I don't know.
posted by stbalbach at 12:32 PM on November 6, 2013


Do TV newscasters always sound this annoying, or is it just this guy? I could barely stand to watch it long enough to get to the interesting part.

Interesting that the point of mainstream news is to digest the raw information and make it easier to understand, but once you're used to understanding what happened by watching raw youtube clips from whichever random people happened to be there at the time, the actual information transfer rate you get through the professional news starts to seem frustratingly low.
posted by Mars Saxman at 12:34 PM on November 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


Skydive Superior also had a fatal accident in 2000, where two skydivers collided midair and one of them lost consciousness from it. Interestingly - and I think this is because this happened outside of the airplane - the FAA classified this as an "incident" and "not a midair collision".

I'm not really sure what to make of this information, other than maybe the employees at this skydiving outfit are not the best trained people out there.
posted by backseatpilot at 12:37 PM on November 6, 2013


Checkbook Journalism? More like checkbook accident voyeurism entertainment television. Some people, knowingly performing risky acts broke their toys but were apparently otherwise unhurt, how is this news really?

I'm more concerned about what passes for news rather than who's throwing money around for ratings and ad dollars.
posted by Reverend John at 12:37 PM on November 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


This comment on reddit by a jump plane pilot is pretty insightful in explaining the difficulty in piloting the plane while jumpers are hanging on outside. It also has a link to the NBC source video in case they take it down at YouTube.
posted by exogenous at 12:39 PM on November 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Are those disclaimers that they make everyone sign before skydiving broad enough to cover even these kinds of incidents? I suppose they are, but damn, there's no excuse for the pilots having so little situational awareness.

They are comprehensively broad. They're printed on brilliant yellow or orange paper with diagonal warning bar borders, and each short paragraph, which must be initialed in addtion to signing the paper, basically says in one sense or another: "I fully accept that there are countless ways I could die doing this and I waive all liability irrespective of cause."

I'm wondering where the eyes on the ground were. In my experience every jump is watched, there is constant radio contact and no two planes are going to be in the same airspace at the same time. It's typical for skydiving centers to be at or adjacent to a regional airfield, and every now and then there's a takeoff when the jump plane is at altitude. But your pilot knows all about it and files a straight and level course and nobody gets out until the other plane is gone.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:40 PM on November 6, 2013


In my experience every jump is watched, there is constant radio contact and no two planes are going to be in the same airspace at the same time

Both planes were owned by the skydiving outfit and from their website it looks like they do some competitive jumping, so my guess is they were going to practice a formation jump from both planes. That reddit comment has some good info on the whys.
posted by backseatpilot at 12:43 PM on November 6, 2013


I have flown my plane in formation (after careful training by excellent former Naval aviators) and the relative position of the two aircraft here was pretty much the opposite of how it ought to be done. It's clear that immediately before the collision the pilot in top plane had little chance to see the bottom plane. Either the pilots didn't plan & brief this flight adequately, or they deviated massively from the plan.
posted by exogenous at 12:54 PM on November 6, 2013


Thanks. For group jumps it's probably best to choose a facility that has a plane large enough to take everybody at once. (Chosen as a first result on a search for "king air skydiving" -- I haven't jumped in or even been to Tennessee...)
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:54 PM on November 6, 2013


Wait, so Hollywood had it right all this time? Things DO explode into fireballs when they collide?

Jokes aside, glad everybody lived. Scary shit, this.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 1:04 PM on November 6, 2013


George_Spiggott: "This was incredibly avoidable. There's absolutely no excuse for those pilots not knowing how close their aircraft are to each other"

This is actually a surprisingly common issue in high wing aircraft like these Cessnas. The pilot above can't see the aircraft below because it is below and slightly behind. The pilot below can't see the aircraft above because of his big-ass wing in the way. In one of these little Cessnas, there is very little rearward visibility, so somebody is going to be flying blind if you're doing formation flying with the aircraft at differing altitudes. Someday, ADS and/or TCAS will become cheap enough that even little Cessnas like these can have the situational awareness commercial flights have.

Note that I'm not saying that the pilots involved bear no responsibility, they certainly do. I'm just saying this is more akin to a person misjudging a left turn in their car than outright reckless driving, at least based on the information available at present.
posted by wierdo at 1:12 PM on November 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


The fundamental rule of VFR (Visual Flight Rules) is that the pilot of each aircraft is responsible for separation of their aircraft from all other aircraft. The magical phrase is you are required to "see and avoid" all other obstacles and aircraft. So, there's going to be some blame attached to both, because they got themselves into a place where they couldn't "see and avoid" each other.

The one place you never want to be, unless you are a fighter trying to shoot down the other plane, is behind and below. There's no way for the other guy to see you, and if something happens to drop his airspeed -- for example, say, drag increasing because jumpers are climbing out -- two things naturally follow. Less airspeed means you're going slower, so the guy behind starts to catch up. Less airspeed also means less airspeed over the wings, which means less lift, which means you tend to drift down -- which means the plane ahead is not only slowing down, it's drifting down, and drifts right into the plane that's behind and below.

The guy flying in front will get dinged for not holding altitude and not seeing and avoiding (the right answer if you lose visual is power up and move up/forward, then sideways until you can see the guy behind again. Oh, and of course, don't lose airspeed and altitude.) The guy behind, though, is really getting dinged because he put himself in the sucker spot -- and when the guy ahead started to slow down and drift down, he didn't get out of the way.
posted by eriko at 1:12 PM on November 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Do TV newscasters always sound this annoying, or is it just this guy?
I admit that I haven't watched the clip but feel pretty confident in saying that yes, TV newscasters always sound that annoying.
posted by usonian at 1:14 PM on November 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


The one place you never want to be, unless you are a fighter trying to shoot down the other plane, is behind and below. There's no way for the other guy to see you, and if something happens to drop his airspeed -- for example, say, drag increasing because jumpers are climbing out

To say nothing about the jumpers themselves since "behind and below" the plane they've just exited is precisely where they're going to go.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:21 PM on November 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Second link is dead.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:22 PM on November 6, 2013


I've jumped from a Cessna in that configuration: door modified to open upward, locking wheel brake so you can stand on it with one foot while holding the wing strut. It is an ironclad rule that once you are out you are committed: you are jumping. You do not get back into the plane. So I'm trying to imagine the horror of that guy out on the strut, seeing that plane below him, the next jumper in the doorway ensuring you're not getting back in anyway. It's a precarious perch: you're not meant to remain there for more than a few seconds' count, and utterly untenable for any maneuvering; the least twitch on the stick is going to throw you off.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:44 PM on November 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


What they're doing is something I've never seen -- a guy with a monkey grip on the wing strut continuing to hang on while another guy gets out. I'm no pilot but you don't have to be one or an aeronautical engineer to see that that's a shitload of bad weight distribution and leverage in addition to drag for such a tiny plane, and with all that going on the pilot is not in a good position to see the other plane and his maneuverability is horribly compromised. It seems to be a deliberate setup rather than the second guy failing to notice that the first guy hadn't gone yet -- there's just no way. I'm sort of amazed that this is allowed at all.
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:00 PM on November 6, 2013


Thanks. For group jumps it's probably best to choose a facility that has a plane large enough to take everybody at once.

A King Air? That won't do. You need a DC-9!
posted by zsazsa at 2:08 PM on November 6, 2013


George_Spiggott: "Thanks. For group jumps it's probably best to choose a facility that has a plane large enough to take everybody at once. "

Sky Van
posted by the_artificer at 6:15 PM on November 6, 2013


Paying for video footage isn't exactly "checkbook journalism.". Almost all documentaries, news magazine shows, etc. license footage and photos ( not from their own archives, of course) for use, and paying for amateur footage isn't quite the same as paying for an interview or story rights.

And in any case while I admire the major news operations for their continuing efforts to get material for free, they are in fact in the business of selling ads. If I've got something unique to bring to the table I will definitely demand my cut.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 8:28 PM on November 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sky Van, eh? Even better might be an Air Bus...
posted by alexei at 2:03 AM on November 7, 2013


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