Miracle over Kannah Creek

There are so many unusual things about the midair collision of two small planes near Kannah Creek Wednesday that both the collision and its results are nearly inexplicable.

First, midair collisions most frequently occur within five miles of airports, federal authorities say. That’s where multiple aircraft are likely to be flying in a relatively small airspace, landing and taking off or approaching the busy area. Out in the countryside, in a relatively open area away from busy air traffic, it’s much more unusual for two planes to end up in the same location and at the same altitude at the same time.

It’s also atypical for such an accident to occur on a bright, clear day when visibility was reportedly excellent.

But most amazing of all is what happened after the collision. Two small planes, carrying a total of six people, were forced into emergency hard landings. One of them ended up belly-up in a sagebrush flat with its tail sheared off. Yet all six people walked away without serious injury. It really is a miracle.

Federal investigators are now trying to reconstruct the events that led up to the collision and whether one or both of the pilots violated flight rules. One pilot was Andy Gordon, a long-time flyer with the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department, who was ferrying a deputy and two prisoners to Cañon City. The other was Tom Haefeli, who was flying with his father, John, from the San Luis Valley to Idaho.

No matter what the results of that investigation, however, we join many people in Mesa County and in the Del Norte area in rejoicing that no one was seriously injured.


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