2 planes collide midair above Denver, no one injured

Denver: Two small airplanes collided in midair Wednesday near Denver, leaving one aircraft nearly ripped in half and forcing the pilot of the other to deploy a parachute attached to the plane to land safely. Remarkably, no one was injured, officials said.

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Both planes were getting ready to land at a small regional airport in a Denver suburb when they collided mid-morning, according to the National Transportation Safety Board and South Metro Fire Rescue.

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“Every one of these pilots needs to go buy a lottery ticket right now,” Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Deputy John Bartmann said. “I don’t remember anything like this – especially everybody walking away. I mean that’s the amazing part of this.”

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June Cvelbar told the KUSA TV station that she witnessed the collision while walking in Cherry Creek State Park.

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“I saw two planes in the sky. I saw a larger green plane, which I thought was a tow plane, along with what I thought was a glider being towed by it. I heard a noise but didn’t realize that the two planes had collided,’ she told KUSA in an email.

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Cvelbar said she saw the green plane fly off and shortly after saw the smaller plane deploy its parachute. She said she initially thought it was a training exercise.

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“When I realized that the small plane was going down I ran toward it. The pilot and his passenger were up and about,” Cvelbar said.

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The pilot was the only person aboard a twin-engine Fairchild Metroliner that landed at Centennial Airport despite suffering major damage to its tail section. The plane is owned by a Colorado-based company called Key Lime Air that operates cargo aircraft.

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A pilot and one passenger were on the other plane, a Cirrus SR22 single-engine plane that unleashed a red and white parachute to float to a safe landing in a field near homes in Cherry Creek State Park, Bartmann said.

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It was not immediately known who owned the Cirrus plane, he said.

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The National Transportation Safety Board said in a tweet it was sending staff to investigate the incident. Key Lime Air will cooperate with the investigation, the company said in a statement.

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