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Skydivers' terrifying collision and chaotic plunge

11:55 PM, Nov 4, 2013   |    comments
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The cameras strapped to the skydivers' helmets were supposed to memorialize their perfectly timed jumps and exhilarating descent from two small planes to the earth 12,000 feet below.

Instead, the footage filmed by five daredevils shows the terrifying moment when the aircraft collided above Wisconsin, flinging parachuters into the air like plastic action figures and sending one plane into a fiery dive across a sunset-lit sky.

Nightly News will have the first look at the video at 6:30 p.m. Monday, followed by full exclusive coverage on TODAY on Tuesday morning.

The images are heart-stopping: One Cessna suddenly sandwiched atop another; the legs of a jumper dangling over the tail of a plane; a skydiver hanging onto a step like an acrobat before he lets go; a fireball roaring out of one plane as it plunges downward.

The thrill-seekers' helmets also filmed the miraculous aftermath of the crash: one by one, the jumpers landing on the ground, shaken but largely uninjured, and hopping into a truck to gather up the others.

All nine skydivers survived. The only person injured was the pilot of the Cessna that lost its wing. He had on an emergency parachute and escaped through an emergency chute and suffered cuts.

The pilot of the other plane was able to pull out of a dive and land at Richard I. Bong Airport in Douglas County.

"The outcome for us was as good as it could be," Mike Robinson, one of the passengers, told NBC News over the weekend.

Robinson, 64, said then that the two single-engine planes were in position for a maneuver called a tracking dive, with one closely following the other.

"The sun was just getting ready to set, it was our last load of the day," he said Saturday. "It was just a perfect time to be up in the sky."

There were several passengers in position to jump from an exterior step on each plane when the collision happened. Others were inside but quickly leaped out.


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