Horrifying video captured the moment a group of skydivers in South Africa prepared to jump from a plane seconds before it stalled, went out of control and headed toward the ground.
The heart-stopping incident happened Oct. 14 in Mosselbay, according to video published by Viral Hog.
The Beechcraft King Air was flying at 16,000 feet when the jumpers opened the door and prepared for their formation skydive, according to the account by videographer Bernard Janse van Rensburg.
“We opened the door and began the climb out. As is normal, the skydive team was fully focused on achieving correct positioning and exit timing. This intense focus on task resulted in many of the skydivers missing the tell-tale signs of an imminent stall,” he said.
The footage shows the plane start to bank the moment most of the jumpers let go of the aircraft.
When planes stall, the smooth airflow over their wings is disrupted, resulting in a loss of list. Stalls occur for a variety of reasons, including slow flight, but pilots can generally recover by lowering the nose and adding power.
“This all happened inside of just a few seconds. Those on the outside of the door and immediately inside of the door followed. With nine of us initially in the sky, there were still five skydivers inside of the aircraft,” van Rensburg wrote.
“The moment was surreal and I could not believe what I was seeing. Everything happened in slow motion and I remember thinking, ‘Am I really seeing the plane spinning nose down next to us?’” he said.
“After the spin, the aircraft started to veer underneath us but luckily did not make contact. As the aircraft started to recover from the stall (still unstable) one further skydiver exited, leaving four skydivers and the pilot in the aircraft,” he added.
“After I was satisfied that the aircraft had recovered (it is a fascinating and unusual thing to see your jump aircraft below you in freefall), I searched the sky for my team and found them building the pre-planned formations in a safe and normal manner,” the videographer said.
The plane made a safe landing and no one was hurt in the incident, which was reported to the South African Civil Aviation Authority and Parachute Association of South Africa.