Deploying a braking parachute BEFORE landing?

This seems weird, but it also seems to work.  According to The Aviationist, this Polish Sukhoi Su-22 strike aircraft was filmed deploying a drogue braking parachute in the air, before touching down, as a deliberate maneuver to slow down faster when landing on a very short or damaged runway.  It apparently allows the aircraft to stop within about 1,000 feet.  The pilot appears to retain full control in the air, despite the additional drag.

That’s all very well . . . but if the chute doesn’t deploy properly, and the aircraft is committed to a landing without enough room on the runway to come to a halt by conventional means, the pilot had better have one hand on the ejection seat handle!


EDITED TO ADD: My memories of the Su-22 are of several of them dropping large quantities of bombs near my positions during several military operations in Angola during the 1980’s.  Fortunately, all of them missed me . . . but it’s still not my favorite aircraft.


  1. What's that Navy phrase? Oh, yeah… "BOLTER, BOLTER, BOLTER!"

    Or… "Ramp Strike!"

    At least many ex-Soviet planes were actually built for semi-rugged conditions, which is weird when you think about it, because though their land planes have super-rugged landing gear, their carrier planes don't. Oh, well, Russians being Russians..

  2. I wonder if they do that so they can keep the power up on landing. Some of the older jets had a deadly lag when you shoved the throttles forward. (One of the first things you notice when you go from props to turbines.) The pilot would have to hit the first brick on landing, if you didn't and had to release the chute to go around, there probably wasn't another chute. Just guessing.

  3. My father once told me a story about an event in the 50s. An F-86
    was on approach to LAX, but the pilot mistook Hawthorn Municipal
    airport for LAX. By the time he realized his mistake, it was too
    late. He ended up crashing through the chain link fence with the
    nose of the aircraft in the middle of Prarie Avenue. He recalled
    seeing armed MP's standing watch for several days while they
    figured out how to properly secure the aircraft.

    My guess is that the pilot got his ass reamed!

  4. I think it depends a great deal on your approach. If you knew in advance that this was the game plan, I think you would make your approach differently, since once you pop that drag chute, your vertical velocity will increase in proportion to the loss of lift from lowered airspeed. In other words, do it wrong and drive your landing gear through your wings and maybe your skull between your shoulders. But within certain limits, it seems quite feasible.

    Re: Su-22s: I don't think their pilots had much higher regard of them than you and your mates did, except in regards to its direct predecessor, the (awful) Su-7.

  5. Notice how late the gear come out. Also notice the slight increase in AOA as chute expands. I suspect that power was in – or increased – as chute deployed and then – only when clear that chute worked, was gear dropped and plane lands. Chute fails, pull the chute dump and fly away.


  6. The pilot MUST increase throttle with that chute deployed, or the plane stops flying, and proceeds to crash. You can't fool nature, that chute is a giant brake. Those old style engines are slow to spool up to usable power levels.
    I suspect the tactic is to get the plane as slow as possible while maintaining throttle response and a level AOA to enable the plane to settle on the gear. You might be able to manage the same ground speed by dancing on the exhaust with the nose pointed at the sky, but that is not conducive to a short landing roll, and is very hazardous.

    I'm still surprised that no one has figured out how to fit thrust reversers to engines with reheat. Not having to bother with drag chutes would be good.

  7. It makes no sense to do that maneuver; too complicated and would likely increase the distance needed. The normal routine to minimize runway use would be to pull the throttle back sooner, touch down just over stall speed, and deploy the chute at the same time. As it is he is coming in way over stall speed to deploy the chute, and putters along decelerating and eating up ground under him before he touches down.

    The only two reasons I could think of for this maneuver was : 1. either trying to stay in the ejection seat envelope for longer (I flew a MIG-21 a few decades ago and the ejection envelope was so lousy that you actually couldn't eject on final approach; I don't know if this was normal or just for the old pig I was flying), or (2) perhaps he was trying to impress his mother.

  8. Looks to me like he did a dive and drive to get down, was still high and fast, saw he was eating up the available runway, so popped the chute to make the landing….see how he drops the last 5 or so feet; I think he stalled it on. Risky maneuver to save a bad approach.

  9. Oh man, had a copilot do that to me once. No mid-air chute but, On speed, Over the first brick, throttles to idle, airbrakes 6… and I guess we were still about 6 feet high but damn, that was a hard landing. When the wings quit flying, you start falling.

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