The skydivers who survived two planes colliding in far northwest Wisconsin are hoping the dramatic video footage of that day will help save the company that owns the planes.
Footage from five helmet cameras shows one Cessna coming down on the back of another, shearing off the lead plane's right wing Nov. 2 near Lake Superior. All nine skydivers and one pilot jumped to safety and the other pilot landed a damaged plane.
Mark Androsky, whose family owns Skydive Superior and the two planes, told the Duluth News Tribune the company carries liability insurance for both airplanes, but it did not insure the planes themselves. Such coverage would run about $10,000 per aircraft, more than the small, family-run company could afford, Androsky said.
The nine skydivers that day were participating as customers of Skydive Superior, and the rights to the footage belonged to them individually, company officials said.
The skydivers ended up selling their collective video to NBC, which has the exclusive rights for the first two weeks. A number couldn't be found for Sinex by The Associated Press Sunday, but Androsky said the exact amount is still being negotiated. After that, the video can be offered to other buyers.
"I'm overwhelmed that they would do this, that they would go to New York and share their video and their stories to save their drop zone," Androsky said, describing the local skydivers' efforts as an incredible act of generosity.
Androsky estimated it will take about $80,000 to repair the damaged Cessna 185 and another $70,000 to replace the Cessna 182 that now sits in mangled pieces, secured as evidence by the Federal Aviation Administration.
The idea of selling the footage came from Barry Sinex, one of the skydivers who jumped to safety.
"I told them that if you let me, I think that maybe we can find a way to save our drop zone," Sinex said, referring to the site at Richard I. Bong Airport where they skydive.
Raising $150,000 with their story and video sounded like a tall order, and Sinex says his colleagues were skeptical initially, but they were willing to give it a try. He said no one held out to derive any personal financial gain from the endeavor but instead all agreed to direct anything they could raise toward reviving Skydive Superior.
"They were all 100 percent behind the idea," Sinex said. "Our local skydiving community is like one big family, and there was no question that we were going to stick together."
Sinex said broadcasters from around the world have inquired about purchasing broadcasting rights.
Even if the effort falls short of the $150,000 goal, Sinex remains optimistic enough money will be raised to enable Skydive Superior to resume at least limited operations by next summer.
"Nobody's getting rich here," he said.
All nine skydivers say they plan to jump again and again and would fly with both pilots.