Mid-air collision for prisoners' plane in Mesa County


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Mid-air collision for prisoners' plane in Mesa County

<!--subtitle--><!--byline--><!--date-->Article Last Updated: 10/22/2008 12:28:19 PM MDT

The Mesa County Sheriff's Office plane collided with another small plane in mid-air on Oct. 22, 2008. (Grand Junction Airport)

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<script language="JavaScript"> if(requestedWidth > 0){ document.getElementById('articleViewerGroup').style.width = requestedWidth + "px"; document.getElementById('articleViewerGroup').style.margin = "0px 0px 10px 10px"; } </script>A Mesa County Sheriff's Department plane carrying four people including two prisoners flew back safely to the Grand Junction Regional Airport this morning following a mid-air collision with a plane carrying two people, authorities say.
No one was injured in the 9 a.m. accident including the two who landed safely in a field about 14 miles southeast of the airport, said Mike Fergus, spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration.
He said the Cesna 180, which was carrying two people, and a charter plane, a Cesna 210, collided in the air 15 miles southeast of Grand Junction.
"It's very miraculous," said Barbara Chappell, an assistant at the Mesa County Sheriff's Office. "There were no injuries."
Someone aboard the Cesna 180 called 911 to report that no one aboard the plane was injured, she said.
The Cesna 210 landed safely even though the landing gear on the plane was "stuck," Fergus said. He said it is not known how the landing gear became stuck, although it is possible it was damaged during the collision.
He said it is not known why the two planes collided.
"That's exactly what the investigation will determine," Fergus said.
The National Transportation Safety Board will do the crash investigation, said Heather Benjamin, spokeswoman for the Mesa County Sheriff's Department. She said it is not known what led to the accident.
Fergus said such mid-air collisions only happen two or three times a year and it is unusual that no one is hurt or killed when one occurs.
"These are very, very rare," Fergus said.
It is not known how much damage was done to the planes, he said. Although a picture of the Cesna 210, which is owned by the sheriff's office, showed it had bent and twisted propellers.
The sheriff's office plane, which is only used for transporting prisoners, was carrying two prisoners who were being transported to a Colorado Department of Corrections facility, Chappell said. The plane is flown by a sheriff's deputy who is also a pilot, Benjamin said.
The prisoners were taken back to the Mesa County jail and will later be taken to Cañon City, authorities said.
"There was no attempt by these prisoners to escape," Benjamin said.
The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel is reporting that Del Norte resident Tom Haefeli was flying the second plane, which was also carrying his son John.
"All of a sudden there was a plane right in front of us" the newspaper quoted John Haefeli as saying.
Tom Haefeli turned the nose down, but it was too late, he told the paper. The other plane sheared off a section of the tail, and from then on he had no control of the plane, he said.
We thought, "We're not going to make it," the Sentinel quoted John Haefeli as saying.
The plane landed upside down and quickly came to rest, not sliding along the ground, according to the paper.
The crash happened in good weather conditions, Chappell added.



Pays to fly
Pretty amazing outcome, thank God.

Otherwise, if you had just showed me the photo of that P210, without telling me what had happened, I would have said:

"Oh, another 210 with a nose gear collapse on landing!"