Skydiving is a risky activity, one in which many adherents highlight the pure absurdity of “jumping out of a perfectly good airplane.” Typically, the skydiving greenhorn might worry about their parachute failing or having a rough landing. Rarely does one consider the plane falling out of the sky immediately after the jump, but that’s precisely what happened on a recent drop in South Africa.
The footage published by ViralHog comes to us from videographer Bernard Janse van Rensburg. He boarded the Beechcraft C90 King Air, which flew to an altitude of 16,000 feet above ground level for the second drop of a 20-person jump. As the videographer of the jump, he took up his position closest to the tail of the aircraft, hanging on to a rail outside the plane with several other jumpers. “The skydive team was fully focused on achieving correct positioning and exit timing,” said Janse van Rensburg. “This intense focus on task resulted in many of the skydivers missing the tell-tale signs of an imminent stall.”
From his position near the tail of the aircraft, the videographer felt the plane “slip” twice, and realizing that something was awry, decided to let go of it. The skydivers on the outside of the plane also let go, with several more inside jumping out as well. With skydivers peeling off into the breeze, the plane stalled, spinning nose down and diving sharply to the left.
Falling out of control, the plane passed underneath the pack of nine skydivers that left the aircraft, thankfully not making contact with anyone as it fell through the sky. One further skydiver can be seen later exiting the plane while it was still unstable. Four of the planned dive crew remained inside the aircraft, with the pilot recovering control and later landing safely.
“It is a fascinating and unusual thing to see your jump aircraft below you in freefall,” said Janse van Rensburg. With the plane resuming normal flight shortly after the drop, the videographer was then able to link back up with the rest of the dive crew, stating, “After I was satisfied that the aircraft had recovered, I searched the sky for my team and found them building the pre-planned formations in a safe and normal manner.”
As is common practice with any aviation incident, the relevant authorities were notified—in this case, the South African Civil Aviation Authority and the Parachute Association of South Africa. “The next day the jump team made adjustments to their exit procedure following discussion with the pilot and no further incidents or near-incidents were experienced,” reports Janse van Rensburg.
It’s a sobering bit of vision that shows how rapidly things can go wrong in the air. In just a few short seconds, nine skydivers were scattered to the wind with four more plus a pilot pointing at the ground in the stalling plane. Thankfully, the professional training and skill of all involved meant that in this instance, no one was injured and the incident was recoverable. It pays to stay sharp in such situations, and it’s clear that both the skydivers and the pilot involved all learned something here.
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