Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Handley Page HP-137 Jetstream III, Air US, N11360 -and- Cessna TU206, N4862F, operated by Sky's West Parachute Center: Fatal accident occurred April 17, 1981 near Fort Collins–Loveland Municipal Airport (KFNL), Colorado

NTSB Identification: DCA81AA015 
14 CFR Part 135 Scheduled operation of AIR U.S.,INC
Aircraft: HANDLY PAGE HP-137, registration: N11360

NTSB Identification: DCA81AA015
14 CFR Part 91 General Aviation
Aircraft: CESSNA TU206A, registration: N4862F

GYPSUM - More than three decades have passed since two planes collided over the skies of Loveland. However, for Jon Ezequelle, it feels like it was yesterday. 

"Oh, I remember it vividly. It happened on Good Friday, April 17, 1981 at 4:02 p.m.," Ezequelle said from his living room in Gypsum.

Ezequelle was a skydiver on board a small plane when he noticed something out the window at 18,500 feet up.

"I turned to look south and I saw this very large plane. I could actually see the [propeller], I could see faces in the windows and I quickly turned and said, 'I'm dead,'" Ezequelle explained.

Ezequelle's plane and a passenger plane heading to Wyoming collided mid-air. The back end of the plane Jon was inside tore off and sucked the passengers out, including Jon.

"When I opened my eyes I was free falling. I was floating out of the plane," he said.

Ezequelle was one of the lucky ones. His parachute released and he was able to float down to the ground. Others weren't as lucky. Fifteen people died that day, including everyone on the passenger plane.

"I was kind of surprised any of us had survived," Ezequelle said. "But four of us had."

While watching the news Monday evening, Ezequelle saw footage of the mid-air plane crash in Minnesota. He was amazed by the video, but said there were a lot of differences between his experience and the Minnesota experience.

"They didn't experience the impact we had experienced," Ezequelle said. "The National Safety Transportation Board is going to say the same thing about that accident as they said about ours. It's an unsurvivable accident. It's just luck."

The reason why Ezequelle's plane collided with another plane was due to a lack of communication and a lack of radar equipment, he said.

In the years and decades that followed his crash, he continued to skydive and even took up other extreme sports such as whitewater kayaking and hang gliding.

At the age of 75, he continues to be adventurous.

"What am I to do? Sit here in a sofa and watch that TV? No thanks," he said.

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