Well, this could have gone much worse.
Two small planes collided midair in central Colorado on Wednesday morning. Remarkably, the three people involved in the incident — two pilots and one passenger — were unharmed by the harrowing ordeal, according to local reports.
The two aircraft were flying over Cherry Creek State Park in preparation for landing at Centennial Airport when they crashed into each other, leaving one of the planes nearly severed in half.
A single-engine Cirrus SR22, with a pilot and passenger onboard, deployed a parachute to help it land roughly, but safely, about four miles north of the airport, located in Englewood. It had reportedly just left the airport an hour prior for a run to Fort Collins and was on its way back from the errand when the collision took place, according to FlightAware records.
Traveling east from Salida, the gouged craft — a Swearingen Metroliner SA226TC cargo plane with a single pilot operating — made its landing at the Centennial airstrip, with apparent damage to the rear fuselage, Colorado Sun reported Wednesday.
“You expect something a lot worse. This was amazing,” said Arapahoe County Sheriff’s deputy John Bartmann in a statement to reporters on the scene. “We’ve had several plane crashes in our jurisdiction. Never have we seen a parachute be deployed and bring the plane down safely.”
“Every one of these pilots needs to go buy a lottery ticket right now,” Bartmann added. “I don’t remember anything like this — especially everybody walking away. I mean that’s the amazing part of this.”
According to air traffic control, the Cirrus had been warned to veer west as it prepared for landing, noting that a Metroliner was nearby.
The crash happened seconds later.
“Looks like the right engine failed, so I’m going to continue my landing,” said the Metroliner’s pilot, according to the Sun, perhaps not realizing a collision had taken place.
It remains unclear who or what caused the accident. The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash.