Two planes nearly collided in midair above Orlando airport recently. The evasive actions of a Black pilot from Jamaica helped avoid a major midair disaster. The incident involved a small craft and a Delta passenger jet.
The close call was captured on video, and now the FAA is investigating the mishap. Malik Clarke was piloting a single-engine Cessna plane when the craft came within about 500 feet of a Delta 757 that was taking off from Orlando International Airport in August, ABC News reported.
Orlando International Airport (MCO) ended 2021 as the busiest airport in Florida. It served 40.3 million passengers, according to OrlandoAirports.net. It was seventh busiest airport in the nation in 2021.
According to Clarke, he had to take “evasive action” to avoid the much larger plane.
“I knew that this didn’t look right, so immediately, I turned right, and I climbed as steeply as I could because the Boeing 757 from Delta has a much higher climb rate than the aircraft that I was flying,” Clarke told ABC. “If I hadn’t done that evasive maneuver, it’s quite likely there would have been a midair collision,” Clarke said.
Video of the incident, which was taken by Clarke, shows the huge plane taking off just a short distance from Clarke’s small aircraft. Clarke wrote on an Instagram post of the video, “This happened to me and two of my friends that I was flying with two days ago (08/17/2022). Controllers in Orlando Intl MCO gave me and another Delta Airlines pilot initial headings that would make us converge after takeoff.”
According to Clarke, when the Delta plane passed right underneath his plane, he had just switched frequencies meaning he was out of contact with air traffic control,.
Clarke was the only one on his small craft at the time.
The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the near-miss, The New York Post reported.
“The two aircraft got as close as 500 feet vertically and 1,500 feet horizontally, which means way too close. It was somebody’s error to put them in the same part of the sky,” Steve Ganyard, a former State Department employee who now contributes to ABC News.
Delta is also investigating the error.
Pilot Malik Clarke. Video shows a jet taking off close to Clarke’s small aircraft. Instagram/@malik_dambah