Pilot Who Made Emergency Parachute Landing Trained In Tulsa
TULSA, Oklahoma - The pilot who used a parachute to make a relatively soft crash landing in Fayetteville Tuesday actually trained to do that at Jones Riverside Airport.
Pilot Bill Simon recognized he was running out of options and pulled the parachute in his Cirrus aircraft. He trained for that, at Destinations Flight Center, where, Wednesday, they were happy he was able to walk away.
The sight of an airplane underneath a parachute got a lot of attention, and so did the crash landing; partly because the pilot was the former U.S. CEO of Walmart, and also because all three men on board were practically unhurt.
The parachute is standard equipment on Cirrus aircraft, and the number one selling point for potential buyers, like Tulsa pilot John Redmond.
Emory: “How much of your interest in this aircraft is that parachute?”
Redmond: “100 percent. In a single engine aircraft, having that as a backup, you can't put a price on it.”
In Fayetteville, Simon pulled the chute after losing power in cloudy weather. The pilot trained for that situation in Tulsa, at Riverside Airport.
"I was just thrilled that Bill got to walk away. We trained for that very scenario. We put them through all kinds of scenarios," said Mike Barnes with Destinations Executive Flight Center.
Destinations Flight Center trains pilots to fly the Cirrus aircraft, to use the advanced instruments and to remember they've got a parachute backup if all the other safety features fail.
They credit Simon's training for saving three lives.
"He's a smart cookie. He prepares for challenges. So he's coming over on a regular basis to stay sharp, and that's why he had his wits about it; he went down his checklist, not going to make the runway, pull the chute, walk away," said Barnes.
Redmond has only been flying a year, but he's already confident that he and his wife are safe flying to Nashville for an event. And seeing the Cirrus parachute in action only makes him more confident.
"That's remarkable and not unexpected, and everything worked as it should and that's what they're there for," Redmond said.
The safety of the parachute has made Cirrus one of the top sellers in new airplanes, beating out most competitors with older names, and designs, and no parachute.