A skydiver in Tampa, Fla., is recovering from multiple bruises and minor injuries after his collision with an airplane and the unforgiving ground. The pilot of the airplane also suffered minor injuries after his plane went into a quick nosedive, crashing into the ground mere feet away from the skydiver. And it was all caught on camera, a photographer that just happened to be near the runway chronicling the mid-air collision.
ABC News reported (via Yahoo News) March 10 that skydiver John Frost, 49, was gliding toward a landing at South Lakeland Airport in Mulberry, Fla. (just east of Tampa), when he was startled to see an approaching airplane -- and it wasn't going to miss him.
"It was just unimaginable that there was an aircraft about to hit me," he told "Good Morning America. "All the sudden I looked over to my right and there was an aircraft coming at me, I realized I was going to have an impact. I scrunched up and tried to prepare myself."
Sharon Trembley, 87 and a World War II veteran, was practicing landing and takeoff maneuvers. He was equally shocked to see a skydiver descending before him just as he was lifting off the runway.
"I pulled back on the stick to make the airplane go up and not hit him," Trembley recounted the incident to local station WTVT. "If I hadn't thought fast enough myself, he would have been dead and you can see that by the pictures."
Frost said that, as he readied himself for impact, "My first thought is that I don't want to end up in the propeller."
He didn't, but the plane, a single-engine Cessna, flew into his parachute's strings. Entangled, they pull taut, whipping Frost back up into the air before hurling him violently to the ground.
Trembley lost control of his plane. It nosedived, crashing perpendicular to the ground.
In the meantime, skydiving photographer Tim Telford was recording the entire event in a series of of shots. “As the shutter’s clicking away, I realize that I’m seeing something that is certainly spectacular,” he told "Good Morning America."
He said his first thought when the plane crashed within seconds of the skydiver being whipped into the ground was: "Oh, my gosh! What happened?"
Both men were taken to the hospital. Frost, just a bit bruised, was treated and released. Trembley, however, was hospitalized and treated for several cuts. One cut to the back of his neck required stitches. His vocal cords were bruised as well.
Frost, an experienced skydiver, said that his collision with an airplane is the first he's ever heard of, and, despite the bumps and bruises, he said the incident hasn't soured him on skydiving at all.
"(As) soon as I get a new rig or decide to rent one, hopefully heal up, soon as I feel safe to jump, I'll get back up there," he said. "It clears your mind. It gives you the exhilaration of a lifetime."
The National Traffic and Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration are investigating the accident.