Video Captured Fireball After Colorado Plane Collision

DENVER (AP) — The fireball that erupted when two small planes collided near Boulder last year was recorded on video by a passenger in another aircraft, the National Transportation Safety Board said this week.

An NTSB report released late Wednesday didn’t say whether the video recorded the collision or only the fireball after the two planes hit on Feb. 6, killing three people.

One of the planes was towing a glider that was carrying three people, including the glider pilot and two passengers. It landed safely after flying through the fireball.

One of the glider passengers took the video, the NTSB said. It’s not clear whether the video will be made public. Telephone messages left with the NTSB’s Denver office and the home of one of the glider passengers weren’t immediately returned Thursday.

The existence of the video had not been previously disclosed. An onlooker on the ground took video of one of the planes descending under a parachute that deployed after the crash, which was shown on TV news stations and online.

The parachute was attached to the plane.

The plane towing the glider was a Piper PA-25 with only the pilot aboard, 25-year-old Alexander Howard Gilmer of Evergreen, Colo. It had taken off from Boulder Municipal Airport.

The other plane was a Cirrus SR20 carrying the pilot, Robert Matthews, 58, of Boulder, and his brother, Mark A. Matthews, 56, of Englewood. It had taken off from Erie Municipal Airport.

There were no survivors aboard either powered plane.

The report didn’t suggest any possible causes of the crash.

It said the glider pilot, Ruben Bakker, told investigators neither of the powered aircraft appeared to make any evasive maneuvers before the collision. Neither pilot had voice contact with air traffic controllers, and they weren’t required to, the NTSB said.

The NTSB said tests by the Federal Aviation Administration found no indication of drugs or alcohol in the pilots of either powered plane.

Investigators checked the visibility from the cockpits of similar models of both airplanes and found some obstruction from a pillar between the windshield and the left side window on the Cirrus. The NTSB said the investigators were able to see around the pillar by moving their heads.

The report said the investigators found no obstructions in the Piper.

by Dan Elliott (Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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