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Sun, Jul 20, 2008

Pilot Bravely Leaves Aircraft Controls To Free Stricken Skydiver

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 Islander.

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 jumped.

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.

FMI: www.mod.uk
 

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