The three skydivers who were on the step of the second plane got knocked off upon impact, Robinson said, and the two inside were able to jump. The pilot of Robinson's plane ejected himself, and the pilot of the second plane landed the aircraft safely at Richard I. Bong Airport, where it took off. The plane was damaged.
Robinson, 64, who lives north of Duluth, Minn., watched as the plane he'd been in spiraled downward and broke into pieces.
"Looking around, we're seeing the wing that came off. We're seeing it's on fire, and there are just parts of the airplane floating in the air with us," he said. "We were falling faster than those parts ... So the concern was we get away from the crash area."
Robinson said the skydivers had parachutes that allowed them to steer themselves away from the falling debris and toward the planned landing spot. They opened their parachutes between 3,000 and 5,000 feet and landed safely.
The pilot of the lead plane, the one that broke apart, had an emergency parachute that cannot be steered, Robinson said. He landed elsewhere and suffered minor injuries that required medical attention.
Robinson said his group was lucky.
"It might've been a lot worse," he said. "Everybody, to a person, responded just as they should, including the pilots."
He said that as he was diving, he grew concerned when he saw only one emergency parachute — meaning only one pilot had ejected. He was relieved to learn the pilot of the second plane was able to stay with the aircraft and land it.
Robinson said he suffered no injuries, but a few jumpers had bumps, bruises and muscle soreness. And despite the scare, he said he would not hesitate to dive again.
"Whenever the clouds and winds allow us to be up, we'll be jumping," he said, although now the company is without aircraft.