Skydiver Plane Collision: Who Was at Fault?
“As soon as I feel safe to jump again, yes, I will be up there.”
Around 11:00 a.m. on Saturday at a small airport in Polk County, Florida, skydiver John Frost was coming in for a safe landing when he saw something that sparked immense fear in him: a single-engine Cessna was coming right at him.
Though he was less than 75 feet from the ground, he immediately knew that it could be very bad.
The private Cessna, driven by 87-year old WWII veteran Shannon L. Trembly, was practicing touch-and-go drills when it came in contact with Frost, slicing through his parachute lines.
“I was afraid that my parachute had become entangled in the prop and that I was going to get slammed into the ground multiple times as it drew me in,” Frost said.
The collision threw 49-year old Frost into the air like a rag doll, eventually tossing him to the ground.
Photographer Tim Telford caught most of the action on his camera.
“Thought I’d have very exciting pics of a close flyby,” Telford told 10 News. “Never in a million years did I think I’d see what I saw.”
After the Cessna’s passenger-side wing cut through the strings, it nose-dived to the ground at a 90-degree angle.
“The plane caught the side of the canopy, flipped the plane 180 degrees and flipped the skydiver into the air,” Telford said. “You heard the airplane hit the parachute, which sounded like you falling on your face into your pillow; a ‘woof’ sound.”
Both men were transported by ambulance to Lakeland Regional Medical Center but neither were seriously hurt.
“This is absolutely incredible that we don’t have any fatalities here,” said Tee Sifford, another witness to the collision.
After his recovery, Frost said, “It was just unimaginable that there was an aircraft about to hit me, because there’s not supposed to be an aircraft in our airspace during this.”
Dan Duran, a veteran pilot of more than 50 years told ABC News, “We all know as pilots that they have the right of way because we can maneuver out of their way.”
Referring to Trembly he added, “He could have stopped, there’s no question about it.”
However, Ed Scott, Executive Director of The United States Parachute Association said on Monday that both men are equally to blame.
“All pilots, all aviators, all skydivers need to actively engage in see and avoid.”
The National Transportation Safety Board and FAA are investigating the incident, which ironically took place on the U.S. Parachute Association’s Skydiving Safety Day.
Image via YouTube