Another pilot saved by an aircraft parachute

The crew of a Coast Guard HC-130 patrol aircraft filmed a Cirrus SR-22 parachuting into the Pacific Ocean about 250 miles north-east of Hawaii yesterday.  Flight Global reports:

After alerting the authorities to his plight, the pilot … was directed by the US Coast Guard towards a cruise ship in the area and ditched in the Pacific Ocean. The pilot was able to exit the four-seat aircraft onto a life raft and was rescued by crew from the ship. Crew on a USCG Lockheed Martin HC-130, flying overhead, coordinated, and filmed, the rescue.

The pilot, who had left California for Lahaina on the island of Maui on 25 January, contacted the authorities at 12:30 local time to say he had 3h of fuel remaining and would be forced to ditch in the sea.

Cirrus says it is the 51st time the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System has been deployed, “resulting in 104 persons returning safely”.

There’s more at the link.  Here’s the video.

That’s another save for a very innovative system.  I still can’t figure out why more light aircraft manufacturers aren’t offering it as a factory-installed option on their planes.



  1. For a second, halfway through the first sentence, I'm thinking it's going to be about a ballistic recovery system for a C130. Now that, I'd like to see!

  2. @Leatherneck: Not necessarily. Headwinds that weren't forecast, a fuel leak, a misreading fuel gauge – there may be many contributing factors. We'll have to see what the accident report says (apart from the inevitable 'pilot error', of course!)

    1. That's why I said "flight planning or navigation." Competent navigation includes such details as waypoint fuel usage, ground speed observation or calculation, etc. Hard to imagine that somebody took an expensive aircraft on a long overwater flight without checking all the boxes.


  3. There was a plane wreck down in western Kentucky where this would have saved a family. 4 dead (dad, mom, daughter, and cousin), and the younger daughter had to crawl out of the plane and walk a mile for help.

    I'm not one for mandating, but this one seems like a no-brainer.

  4. The was the second aircraft crew the Coasties pulled out of the water off the coast. The other ran out of fuel as well.


  5. This guy was a ferry pilot flying a week-old airplane to its new owner. He couldn't transfer fuel from one of the ferry tanks; a situation which he and the ferry prep mechanics were discussing over a satphone for quite some time.

  6. At my airport, one of the most experienced pilots refuses to fly Cirruses. During a biannual flight review, a Vet and a CFI were killed in Pauls Valley Ok in a Cirrus, in a stall spin accident.

    Traditional pilots practice stalls, and at least study spin recovery. Due to the small rudder on a Cirrus, the FAA would not certify it without the parachute, since you cannot recover from a spin. I do not believe you are supposed to stall them.

    Some LSAs also use parachutes. My understanding is that if you pop the chute on a Cirrus the repair bill is $100k.

    I know of many planes that have been landed slowly any safely in fields.

  7. But not many that land in the ocean.

    Unable to transfer fuel would explain why he ditched with 3 hours of fuel on board.

  8. I'm totally ignorant about this, but I thought that Rutan designed a plane (the name was something like Vari-Eaze) that could not stall because of the shape of its wings.

    Is that true?

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