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.