Pilot's Brush with Death
MILWAUKEE - Pilot Jim Kremsreiter said he immediately took action to evacuate his plane after it collided with another aircraft at Mitchell International Airport.
Kremsreiter told us, "I felt a bump and I heard a whoosh and I looked out there and thought I had an engine fire - and then no it's too far out - it's not an engine fire - I better get out of here."
Kremsreiter blames the crash on air traffic control.
Both of the planes involved belong to Freight Runners Express. The aircraft were merging from separate directions onto a taxi way.
The pilots and Freight Runners Express insist air traffic control cleared the planes to taxi at the same time, but that the pilots could not see each other until it was too late.
Initially, Kremsreiter said he did not realize another aircraft was involved. He told us, "It wasn't until I was getting off the wing of the airplane that I even realized there was another airplane there. It was just so bright and all I could see was this fire."
Kremsreiter said he doesn't even remember bailing out of the cockpit because things were happening so fast.
When he revisited the plane the next day, he realized how little he remembered about getting out of the plane.
He told us, "I sat in that airplane the next day - and I mean the seat - my legs are short so the seat has to be all the way forward to reach the rudder pedals. I don't know how I got out there as fast as I did."
During the crash, the propeller from one plane slit the wing-mounted fuel tank on the other plane. Kremsreiter said about twenty gallons of fuel splashed out and started the fire. The planes are used to fly small loads of cargo from other parts of Wisconsin to Milwaukee.
The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the accident.