SUPERIOR — A lack of guidance
from the Federal Aviation Administration and improper training
were significant factors in the midair collision of two skydiving
planes over northwestern Wisconsin about two years ago, according
to aviation investigators.
The National Transportation Safety
Board has concluded its investigation into the November 2013
collision over Superior. All nine skydivers on the two planes and
one pilot jumped to safety, while the other pilot landed a damaged
The NTSB cited the FAA's lack of
guidance on how pilots should fly formation flights with
skydivers. Its investigation into the collision determined that
the owner of the skydiving company did not provide skydiving
formation flight training for its pilots, and did not keep records
of pilot training, Minnesota Public Radio News (http://bit.ly/1IrAeMb
"If both pilots had received
adequate skydiving formation flight training, they might have had
a consensus about how the formation flight should have been
flown," it said in its report. "If the trail airplane
pilot had received such training, he might have been more vigilant
about maintaining adequate lateral and vertical separation from
the lead airplane during the flight."
Video footage from five helmet
cameras shows one Cessna aircraft coming down on the back of
another, shearing off the lead plane's right wing.
The pilots of each airplane had
said they discussed prior to the flight how it would be flown. But
in interviews with the NTSB, all three pilots described different
expectations that they had for the separation between each plane.
Although none of the pilots said
the trail airplane should be flown higher than the lead airplane,
the video footage shows the trail airplane flying higher than the
lead airplane before the collision.
Upon impact, pieces of the lead
plane caught on fire, but everyone on both planes survived.
The skydivers who recorded the
incident sold the footage for $100,000 to NBC News.