Pilot parachutes plane to safety.
October 5, 2002 7:08 PM   Subscribe

Pilot parachutes plane to safety. Never before had a certified aircraft used a parachute to land. But that all changed Thursday afternoon when a pilot in distress used Cirrus' parachute system to successfully bring his disabled airplane to earth. Plane malfunctioning? Release the rip cord! More inside.
posted by hockeyman (12 comments total)
This happened just a few miles away. The plane lost a wing flap (bad). The pilot walked way (good). The plane manufacturer's version of the story here. See link at bootom of their page.
posted by hockeyman at 7:13 PM on October 5, 2002

Bottom, that is. (Note to self: must use spell check)
posted by hockeyman at 7:15 PM on October 5, 2002

When I was a child, I asked why airplanes didn't have parachutes. Grownups laughed at me.
posted by stevengarrity at 7:51 PM on October 5, 2002

Based on the number of aircraft accidents, I think Cirrus has something. Obviously the pilot who used the parachute benefited.
posted by hockeyman at 8:02 PM on October 5, 2002

Cirrus Vice President Bill King said: "We spent more than $10 million developing our parachute system, and if this is the only life we save, it will have been worth it."

More like this, please.
posted by Hankins at 9:17 PM on October 5, 2002

Now, if they'd only get to work on a plane built out of black boxes, we'd all fly crescent fresh from here on out.
posted by agentfresh at 10:14 PM on October 5, 2002

This parachute system is a brilliant idea, I only wish the small light planes I fly had them. It's no substitute to being a good pilot and knowing how to land a plane in the event of an engine failure, but when you've lost control surfaces like an aleiron, the parachute is going to be your best bet. Cirrus are damn sexy planes too. Wish I had the spare $$ to go buy one.
posted by anthonyjhicks at 10:14 PM on October 5, 2002

This isn't really that astonishing; the idea is actually pretty old. NASA has/had been considering a parafoild landing system for its space station Crew Return Vehicle, essentially an orbit-to-ground seven-person "lifeboat". The flight test involved the largest parafoil in history -- and the X-38 is the scaled-down prototype of the CRV.

And it didn't take this success to get others to follow Cirrus in creating a whole-airplane parachute aftermarket. But really, there's a couple decades experience with ultralights and other non-commercial aircraft.

And it didn't take much searching to find the first airplane landed by parachute was in 1929, by a legendary golden-age air-racing barnstormer named Roscoe Turner. These Skyhook guys {same site} seem to think a 747 parafoil system is just a matter of scaling the technology up -- I remain skeptical, since a jumbo jet's stall speed combined with its weight ... well, let's just say we're talking about some advanced engineering.
posted by dhartung at 11:12 PM on October 5, 2002

Excuse me, but how on earth did the plane outright lose a control surface? The manufacturer's press release touting the deployment of the parachute refers to the incident as "control difficulties". I see, your penis fell off your body, so you've got "erectile dysfunction". Am I the only one here who thinks that something stinks?
posted by e.e. coli at 3:55 AM on October 6, 2002

How did the plane lose a control surface? According to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), "early reports indicate that the aircraft was on a return-to-service flight following maintenance." Maybe somebody forgot a bolt or two.
posted by blue mustard at 5:01 AM on October 6, 2002

When I was a child, I asked why airplanes didn't have parachutes.

I'm pretty sure that in the cartoons airplanes had parachutes. Everything in cartoons had parachutes-- even anvils.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:20 AM on October 6, 2002

A buddy of mine recently bought a Cirrus and was (understandably) delighted to hear this news that the parachute worked. "Also good for the mother in law's piece of mind..." he added.
posted by twsf at 12:56 PM on October 7, 2002

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