Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Light-Sport Chronicles: Shroud Lines II

More post-event insights into an airframe parachute deployment over the ocean

"I do think it is a comfort to fly in a plane with an airframe parachute. If you're going to fly in a single over a lot of water, I still prefer that idea to ditching."

For a ditch, even in an LSA you'll hit the water at 35 to 45 knots. "That's not vertical speed like under a canopy, but with fixed landing gear, you might flip. I bet that hurts. If you've got your seat belts on right and don't blow a spleen or do something awful, you've still got your daughter upside down underwater. I don't like that idea a bit. Those are the sort of things I wake up thinking about in the night. And basically, I get the strong impression that people think Cirrus pilots are idiots and parachutes are for weenies, and I'm here to tell you...well, we may be idiots and I may be a weenie I'm going to do it again if I need to.

"I do think there's going to be a problem if you pull a 'chute a second time. It's like a second divorce, people look at you and think, 'Hey, maybe it's you!'"

The Coast Guard-approved life jackets were from West Marine, the fanny-pack style. The doctor and his daughter didn't deploy them. "They make versions that deploy automatically, but you should not wear those in an airplane because you really don't want it deploying in the plane; it'll bar your egress. You want to get out on the wing first or in the water, then pull the vest lanyard.

"My laptop computer, cameras and avionics were trashed. It's amazing how quickly and how much corrosion occurs in salt water."

Hats off to Dr. Richard McGlaughlin for having the Right Stuff—and not being afraid to use it.


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