Two small aircraft collided midair on Wednesday, ripping one almost in half and forcing the other to release the plane’s parachute for a rocky landing to safety. Amazingly, the pilot of the badly damaged aircraft only believed there was an engine failure and requested to land at a small airport in Denver, after which they landed successfully and realized the magnitude of the damage.
Even more miraculously, neither of the pilots or the single passenger on board one of the planes were injured in the collision.
Officials on the scene stated that this is a truly remarkable event, as mid-air crashes of planes traveling at high speeds rarely have happy endings.
“Every one of these pilots needs to go buy a lottery ticket right now,” Arapahoe County sheriff’s Deputy John Bartmann said, speaking to AP News.
“I don’t remember anything like this – especially everybody walking away. I mean that’s the amazing part of this.”
AP News reports on the two aircraft, now safely on the ground. Video Credit: Associated Press
The two aircraft consisted of a Cirrus SR22, a small single-engine aircraft, and a Fairchild Swearingen Metroliner SA226TC, a much larger twin-turboprop airliner that can hold up to 19 people. According to reports, they were gearing up for landing at a Centennial Airport and flying over Cherry Creek State Park when air traffic control noted how close the two aircraft were. The Cirrus was warned to divert course and fly west due to the approaching Metroliner – but mere seconds late,r the Cirrus plowed straight through the midsection of the larger plane.
Following the collision, the Metroliner pilot spoke to air traffic control and stated they intended on continuing their landing, seemingly unaware of the collision.
“Looks like the right engine failed, so I’m gonna continue my landing,” said the pilot in an audio clip.
Meanwhile, the Cirrus deployed the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System, which releases a parachute and allows the aircraft to crash in a controlled manner and minimize the chance of injury. The system appears to have worked wonders, as the aircraft landed in a field safely.
There is now an investigation underway as to how this collision happened. Mid-air collisions of aircraft are incredibly rare, with precise air traffic control, onboard equipment and pilots’ keen eyes keeping themselves firmly out of the paths of other aircraft. The last mid-air collision that occurred was in May 2019, in which two floatplanes collided at over 3,000 feet. This collision was far more devastating, with six fatalities and many more seriously injured, so it is truly a lucky day for the people that have managed to escape unharmed.