According to a report on WUSA9.com, a Cirrus crashed yesterday near Montgomery County Airport. The pilot, who was the only person on board, survived the crash thanks to the Cirrus’s CAPS parachute. As of March 2009, the CAPS has been activated 14 times with 27 survivors and 1 fatalities, according to the Cirrus Owners and Pilots Association.
I’m a Cirrus pilot myself and sometimes I think of the parachute as a bit of a gimmick – something to make passengers feel safer in a single-engine aircraft – but these results are a useful reminder that it is a serious safety device.
I spent a very happy afternoon last year at RGV Aviation in Gloucestershire Airport crawling all over dismantled SR-22s with one of their mechanics. It’s fascinating to see how planes are put together and how all the components interact and much better than trying to read the manual and visualise it. One of my strongest memories was how very small the parachute seemed. It’s smaller than a hiker’s backpack when stowed.