"The Best Letdown We Know..."
As EAA AirVenture
Oshkosh and the entire nation celebrates 100 years of powered
aviation, Ballistic Recovery Systems is pleased to join the
celebration with 20 years of saving lives.
When BRS organized in business in 1980, company officials hoped
they would sell thousands of units and save hundreds of lives. The
South St. Paul company was pleased to record its first save almost
exactly 20 years ago. Since that time, BRS has indeed sold many
thousands of units and saved over 150 lives. "It's easily our most
satisfying achievement," stated Gregg Ellsworth, BRS Director of
The first save was logged by Colorado pilot, Jay Tipton, on
August 7th, 1983. His letter reveals an obvious depth of emotion:
"I can't tell you how much I valued the BRS when I needed it. It
might sound melodramatic but when I climbed out of the wreckage and
saw my wife and 3-year-old daughter running to me from across the
field, I could have cried. I absolutely wouldn't have ever seen
them again if it hadn't been for your BRS."
Tipton's modified Ascender ultralight failed to respond when a
thermal lifted one wing. Jay writes, I lowered the nose a little
and added opposite rudder-but nothing happened. It continued to
rise higher and higher. I had the stick full forward and opposite
rudder… nothing!" He hit the thermal at 300 feet AGL and he
had descended to 200 feet above ground level. His left wing
was now at 90°. The ground was coming up fast.
"Do I give it full power to try to fly out and maybe worsen my
present condition," Jay asked himself? "Or do I pull the parachute
I had installed just a week ago?" He pulled the handle. "The
BRS parachute deployed instantly," Jay reflected later. "I walked
away. The BRS saved my life and I am eternally grateful."
BRS president and CEO, Mark Thomas, said, "These kinds of
heartfelt stories make our work a pleasure." Now, 20 years after
Jay Tipton pulled his parachute handle in a situation he could no
longer control, parachutes have become an integral part of
Since the early 1980s BRS has delivered over 18,000 parachute
systems to aircraft owners around the world including FAA-certified
production models like the Cessna 150, Cessna 172, Cirrus SR20 and
Cirrus SR22, and hundreds of non-certified recreational aircraft.
Actual documented uses of these systems are credited with saving
the lives of 157 persons through the end of July 2003. BRS is a
publicly-traded company based in South St. Paul, Minnesota.
Note: One of the lives saved is none other than
ANN Editor-In-Chief, Jim Campbell (due to a severe control
malfunction), who also was a test pilot on the BRS Cessna
deployments several years ago. Campbell highly recommends the use
of the BRS... simply because he wouldn't be here otherwise.