TODAY

TODAY   |  November 05, 2013

Pilot to skydivers after plane collision: ‘Get out!’

Blake Wedan, the pilot who landed a damaged plane after a mid-air collision at 12,000 feet, tells TODAY’s Matt Lauer that he will “absolutely” get back in a plane and jokes that it “was actually one of my better landings.” Wedan and three of his passengers from Saturday’s collision recount the harrowing ordeal.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> on the harrowing mid- air collision in wisconsin. in a moment, one of the pilots speaks out for the first time but first more of the dramatic video licensed exclusively by nbc news. the helmet cam footage from a group of sky divers shows the terrifying moment when two aircraft collide above wisconsin throwing parachuters into the air like action figures. one of the planes plummeted to the ground after losing both wings but the pilot was able to escape safely and deploy a parachute. the other plane was damaged but able to fly. the pilot of that plane, maintained his calm.

>> you got it.

>> and landed the aircraft.

>> now that pilot's name is blake . he's with us along with three of his passengers. amy oleson and patricia roy and dan chandler. good morning to you. how are you doing?

>> good all things considered.

>> a little shaken up?

>> calm down.

>> calm now? now had a very quick choice to make, blake . impact occurs and you have to decide whether that plane is flyable and landable. what did you go through in the air to try to make that determinati determination?

>> i had to look at all of my control surfaces and make sure they were there and they were there so i knew i could fly it.

>> did you have any reason to believe something was wrong prior to the impact? was there anything strange about the flight? was there anything strange about the plane?

>> no. no. everything was exactly as it should have been.

>> and as you are checking your control surfaces as you just said trying to figure out whether you could land that aircraft, you're also in the process of trying to count parachutes.

>> yes.

>> looking at the horizon. looking around you. talk to me a little bit about that.

>> well, for the first i guess roughly 45 to 50 seconds or however long they were in freefall i couldn't find anybody because you can't find people in free fall so once the parachute started opening up that's when i could finally try and pick people out.

>> you're counting. you need nine skydivers and you're also looking for the shoot of the other pilot.

>> right.

>> did you see him come out of the plane?

>> no.

>> never did. but you saw the shoot finally?

>> yes.

>> you're a pilot as well, aren't you? what do you think he might have been going through. he might be too modest to talk about what it might take to maintain calm and control of the airplane. what did you see?

>> it's part of the initial flight training but for all of my pilots, the reason we do the training we do where i talk to him about the possibilities of these things happening and we go through these procedures, it's the first time we ever had to consider losing these and thank god for pilot shoots.

>> you say thank god for pilot shoots. i did not know that the pilots are required to wear a parachute in a situation like this. that saved the other pilot's life.

>> he did a fantastic job.

>> you talk about hearing blake screaming get out, get out and it's still emotional for you.

>> that's probably the worst. hearing him scream. it's pretty rough.

>> talk about the landing, all right? you're in this plane, it's damaged. talk to me about the damage on the plane?

>> as far as i could see there, my propeller was bent but looking at it now afterwards, there's a lot more damage than i thought.

>> so you don't have thrust really. you can't throttle up.

>> no, it was all the way down. at least i have that though.

>> and patricia, you were one of the people there watching the landing hoping that that plane was able to be landed.

>> right.

>> what were you thoughts as you watched blake coming in?

>> originally i assumed blake was dead because we didn't hear the plane. normally it's pretty loud and i didn't hear it.

>> because it was idle.

>> or maybe just because --

>> right. but when you saw him coming at the runway you already gathered there?

>> yeah. it was like he's alive.

>> yeah, you can hear someone saying come on blake . come on blake . and when the wheels touch -- can i tell you, that was a pretty good landing for somebody in a fully operational plane and considering the plane was banged up, how did you feel about it?

>> it's kind of a joke now. that was actually one of my better landings.

>> given the circumstances. i mentioned i asked all of these people whether they had any desire to go up and do that again. will you get back in a plane? is it that easy?

>> i will, yeah. absolutely.

>> what do you want people to take away from this, dan? people watching this, first of all, may not understand what you guys do for fun anyway. but then what do you want them to take away from what they see here and what the outcome was?

>> don't be afraid to do this. it's ten times more dangerous to ride your motorcycle or drive a car. it's very few skydivers injured or killed in a year. it's safe and we train for this. nobody should be afraid to get up there and do this. we're in a plane and prepared to get out. pilots have parachutes. it happens.

>> the only difference is if you're in a car, you can have what would be a fender bender . fender benders in moving aircraft take on a whole different importance.

>> and it's important to remember that there are incidents that have happened very recently where the jumpers weren't lucky enough to walk away and we are thankful that we did survive and we wish our skydiving community all the safety that we had. all the luck we had.

>> you have quite a story to tell guys. thank you very much. good to have you back on solid ground , blake . pleasure talking to you.