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Tragedy Strikes: The Lake Erie Skydiving Disaster of 1967 – A Turning Point in Parachuting Safety Standards

Imagine a perfect sky diving day turning into a horrible disaster, The sky diving incident of 1967 was an event that sent shock waves around the world. The ideal summer day, a cerulean sky with fluffy clouds, and the sun shining down on the scenic Lake of Erie located in the state of OHIO in USA where the stage was set for sky diving. Unfortunately, the picture perfect thrilling day turned into a disaster for 18 parachuters.

The sun rose on July 1967, promising an exciting day for skydivers. The beautiful canvas of orange and red sky hinting a thrilling day that lay ahead.

Skydivers from all over the country had congregated there. The season professionals were preparing and anticipating this excitement and enthusiasm. The skydivers boarded in American B-25 Aircraft used in WW-II. The divers climbed to an altitude of 20,000 Feet. The height set the stage for their daring endeavor. However, a tragic error occurred as the B-25 relied on ground control radar for guidance.

It was crucial that the aircraft position’s accurately tracked and communicated, as visibility was limited due to dense cloudy atmosphere at such height. A one-engine Cessna 180 took off right after the bomber to photograph the parachuters. Due to the heavy cloud cover, the pilot of the B-25 relied on ground control radar for guidance, but the air traffic controller mistook the Cessna on the radar for the bomber plane. The bomber’s pilot was told he was about three miles from the airfield and started dropping 18 parachutists. Lamentably, it was the Cessna that was three miles out, and the B-25 was actually 12-to-13 miles from the intended drop zone.

This critical miscommunication would have profound consequences. The skydivers were excited and ready to execute their free fall in believe that they were overland. In reality, they were right above the 11th largest lake of the world and no preparation had made for the water landing. This terrible mistake started an event that changed an excited day in to an awful one. The skydivers did not know what was about to happen, as they prepared for their big jump. When they reached 4000 feet, their excitement turned in to a fear. The skydiver realized that they were not descending over solid ground. They were nose-diving towards the waters of Lack Erie. They quickly opened their parachutes at around 3000 feet. In the end, 16 of the 18 skydivers tragically lost their lives in the horrifying freezing water of Lake Erie.

The Lake Erie skydiving disaster of 1967 is a heart-wrenching reminder of risk and adventure. This event lead to improve safety standards of the thrill seekers in the sky. The accident changed the sport of parachuting. After the fatal jump, the Parachute Club of America changed its rules. Now you are not allowed to jump within 50 miles of any body of water unless wearing survival gear.