LONGMONT, Colo. (CBS4) – Two small planes collided in mid-air above Longmont Friday just before noon. Two people were killed in the crash.
Longmont Police Department spokesman Jeff Satur said that one of the pilots, a flight instructor, and his student pilot were killed. That pilot’s plane crashed to the ground after the mid-air collision south of Highway 119 near County Line Road. The location was near a Walmart located by the Weld and Boulder County line.
“I looked up and saw the two planes and saw the Cessna with part of its wing missing. And he just basically spiraled in. The other plane did circle and he was flying,” said pilot Kim Johnson who witnessed the crash.
Investigators are examining whether both planes are Cessnas. The damage in the deadly plane crash is so extensive investigators are having a difficult time determining the type of plane it is.
Roads in the area near that wreckage were blocked while investigators studied the crash scene. The road is expected to be closed until Saturday afternoon.
Witnesses said the mid-air collision at about 11:48 a.m. Friday took the wing off that plane. They described the sound of the crash as a loud “pop.” Others said they saw the plane spiral straight down before slamming into the ground.
Investigators are working to identify who the instructor and passenger are along with who the plane is registered to and the route it was flying when it collided with the other plane.
In the minutes following the crash, an employee at the Walmart on Ken Pratt Boulevard told CBS4 one of the planes involved crashed nearby and that there was likely a person dead.
The scene of that wreck was about 5 miles from the Longmont Vance Brand Municipal Airport.
The other plane involved in the collision went down near airport property after apparently clipping a power line as it descended. Dozens of homes were without power for a few hours Friday afternoon after the power line was cut.
“I looked up and the airplane was coming across obviously having a lot of trouble with altitude and I wouldn’t say out of control but not well in control,” said student pilot Don Poncelow, who witnessed the crash. “There was no smoke.”
Operations at the airport were not interrupted and Longmont Vance Brand Municipal Airport did not close.
The woman piloting that plane survived the crash but did suffer serious injuries. She was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance for treatment.
“It’s a Cessna, looks to me like a 172,” said Poncelow.
The tail number for that plane is N9325C and is registered to a 72-year-old woman.
“I didn’t know this lady, but she is very well known to my flight instructor,” said Poncelow. “My understanding is that she is a very, very experienced FAA examiner. In fact, she would be the examiner that I would fly with to take my exam.”
Investigators believe that plane lost its landing gear before the crash but haven’t attributed that to the mid-air collision. Copter4 images show the propeller of the plane was completely sheared off in the wreckage. There is also what appears to be a door from the plane on the ground near the propeller.
“There’s enough inertia in an airplane that it just took the lines out. It pulled her down slightly and probably what spun her so she landed, ended up backwards,” said Poncelow.
Longmont city workers pulled the woman out of the plane that was leaking fuel. The plane was not on burning but firefighters did spray foam on the fuel spill to keep it from igniting.
The National Transportation Safety Board has been notified of the crashes and federal investigators are assisting in the investigation.
No one on the ground was hurt in either crash.