BOULDER, Colo. - Authorities say an airplane towing a glider has collided with another aircraft in Boulder County, sending the two planes crashing into the ground and killing at least three people.
FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown said one of the aircraft clipped the towline of a plane that had been pulling a glider.
Sheriff's spokesman Rick Brough said the glider disconnected from the plane just before the second craft hit the tow rope.
The glider landed safely -- with no injuries to anyone on board despite flying through a fireball created by the collision -- at a nearby airport just after the planes made impact.
An amateur video shot at the scene showed a plane on fire, floating to the ground trailing thick, black smoke and a parachute.
One witness said he saw two big balls of flames, including one attached to a parachute that fell slowly to the ground.
Brough said the parachute was designed to assist one of the aircrafts and was attached to plane wreckage, not a pilot or passenger.
NTSB field investigator Jennifer Rodi said the accident happened three miles northwest of Boulder Municipal Airport at about 1:30 p.m.
Brough said the three dead came from both of the planes that crashed.
"Most mid-air collisions happen close to the airport where the planes are flying out from," says FOX 31 meteorologist Nick Carter. "It's tough to say what could have caused the crash this early into their investigation, but it is important to remember that the glider should have had the right of way in the air." Carter is a pilot and flight instructor and has flown in and out of most of Colorado's airports.