Sun, Jul 20, 2008
Pilot Cut Entangled Parachute Rigging From Landing Gear
Allowing Diver To Use Reserve Chute
Disaster was avoided in Germany Thursday after a quick-thinking
(and acting) pilot left the controls of his aircraft to untangle
the lines of a skydiver who had become entangled in the landing
gear after exiting the aircraft.
Six members of a British military parachute team were over the
Joint Service Parachute Center at Bad Lippspringe in Germany for a
competition according to the London Daily Mail. The first five
soldiers on the team exited successfully, but the sixth ran into
problems when his partially deployed parachute tangled in the
landing gear of the drop plane, a twin-engined Britten-Norman BN-2
One soldier, who witnessed the incident from the ground, said
"We were watching the plane when I noticed there was a man dangling
upside down by some sort of cable. They must have been flying at
about 140mph. He was completely caught up.”
At 3,000 feet above the drop zone, the civilian pilot noticed
the team member -- an instructor -- frantically waiving at the back
of the plane. The pilot then left his seat for 30 seconds to cut
through the snagged lines and free the skydiver.
“We saw it for about 50 seconds and the plane seemed to be
descending so we assumed the pilot had to land with the man still
underneath” added the witness.
Once clear of the aircraft, the parachutist was able to make a
safe landing after releasing his reserve parachute.
It was thought a technical malfunction caused the chute to
partially deploy prematurely, thus entangling as the parachutist
The locally-based pilot -- a former British soldier who has
asked to remain anonymous -- said he was “only doing his job
and any other pilot would have done the same.”
A spokesman for the British Ministry of Defense said Friday,
“the pilot showed significant bravery and skill.”
“We are unaware of a rescue like this happening
before” he added.
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