Oh…Chute!

Last week’s viral video  on YouTube shows a wing collapsing on a Rans S-9 Chaos (appropriately named) during an air show performance in Argentina. The pilot deployed the airplane’s full frame ballistic recovery system (BRS) parachute seconds after the wing separated from the plane. I didn’t think it possible to get into trouble with a 47hp Rotax engine but I stand corrected. On several blogs, the consensus was that the pilot exceeded the aircraft’s negative G limit.  We may never know if that was true, but another pilot who without a BRS didn’t fare as well when he lost both the wing and the tail of his Rans S-9.

 He definitely tried to jump out of his plane,” Poster said. “His hand was still on the ring and his smaller chute, the one that comes out and pulls the main chute, was laying out, about four or five feet behind him. He was about 15 feet from where the plane came down.”

 That’s something you just don’t want to see. Important pieces of the plane disappearing while concentrating on your next manuever.  If there ever was an advertisement for a full plane parachute, this was it. Parachutes are generally good to have when performing aerobatics.  Although not required for solo flying, it’s better to have one and not need it then to need it and not have one. Emergency egress is a nifty option too, where you can quickly jettison the canopy or the whole door with the pull of a handle.  Hard to do if you’ve lost the wing and enter a spin.

 Lucky it wasn’t an engine fire though. Use of a BRS during a fire would be a really bad idea, allowing the plane to float slowly to earth as fire renders the aircraft a giant toasted marshmallow before you reach the ground.  

Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.

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5 responses to “Oh…Chute!

  1. Australia doesn’t require parachutes for aerobatics or glider ops. Does the FAA require them only for aerobatics with more than one on board? Is it the same for glider ops?

    • We’re famous for regulations in the U.S.
      FAR 91.307 stipulates that parachutes must be worn if you are flying with a passenger if the plane is to exceed 60 degrees bank and 30 degrees pitch. That would cover all aerobatic manuevers since they’re all variations of loops, spins and rolls that exceed those parameters.
      It’s OK fly solo without one. The FAA is also has fewer restrictions on homebuilts unless you have a passenger.

  2. I think anyone who does aerobatics and brings a chute along should go to a skydiving school and make at least one jump, even if it’s a tandem jump. Once you have jumped and realize it’s not that “Scary” you might be able to get out of a wingless airplane just a little bit faster and pull a little bit sooner. Knowing how to steer a parachute could also be a nice skill to have when you are drifting down towards an alligator farm!

    • Amazing thought actually. It’s the same reason pilots should go through spin training-to know what to do if the plane departs, even if they were trying mightily to avoid it. You learn that it’s possible to recover and the process is no longer a first time event if you’ve been taught (in an airplane) .

      It would still be pretty intimidating to make the first egress into the wild blue but it would be a good to know how to pull the “D” ring at least once and steer away from power lines.

      SN2 liked it enough to do it again. Skydive Twin Cities was a little far from Chicago so he went with CSC.

  3. I think a practise jump is a good idea, too. Even if I had a chute I wouldn’t use it unless I lost a tail or folded up the wing. Then I figure I’ve got nothing to lose.

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