Plane's parachute believed to have saved lives in crash

Plane's parachute believed to have saved lives in crash

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BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -

Had it not been for a parachute on the back of a plane, a pilot and his passenger may not be alive today.

The plane that crashed Saturday, a Cirrus SR 22, did exactly what it was designed to do. It saved the lives of the people inside. A lot of people buy these planes for that reason. If the pilot loses control he pulls a lever, and a parachute is launched. The plane is destroyed, but the passengers are able to walk away.

"It's the only aircraft that here on the market that has a parachute installed on it, and it's what saved the day yesterday," said Mitch McCommons, a flight instructor at the Birmingham Flight Center.

Saturday you could see the planes parachute blowing in the wind. According to Birmingham Fire, the pilot lost his bearings in the clouds. A.J. Ramey, who is also a flight instructor at the center, took us inside a simulator to show us what that would look like. The cloud coverage was so thick you couldn't see anything but white. Ramey says that will make the pilot disoriented. Ramey then showed us how short of time the pilot would have had to react.

McCommon's says the parachute saves lives, but it has to be launched in time. "There is a window of opportunity where if you get too low or you're too fast then it might not be as affective, but the safety statistics on the parachute are very good. They've saved a lot of people," said McCommons.

The parachute is launched out the back of the plane. Typically the plane is a total loss, but again the passengers also walk away.

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