The pilot of a Cirrus SR-22 was rescued on Sunday after he was forced to ditch his aircraft approximately two hundred fifty miles from the Hawaiian Islands. The pilot was traveling from Tracy, California and radioed for help at 12:30 PM local time because of a critical fuel state.
The type normally has a maximum range of 1,200 miles, but this particular aircraft was equipped with an auxiliary fuel system to extend its range enough to reach Hawaii, according to the NTSB.
The Coast Guard scrambled a fixed-wing aircraft as well as a helicopter into the area, and also directed the pilot of the stricken aircraft into an area along the travel path of a nearby cruise ship. At approximately 4:45 PM, the pilot correctly deployed the CAPS, or Cirrus Airframe Parachute System, a feature designed to lower the aircraft and its occupants safely to the ground in the event of mechanical problems, pilot incapacitation, or any other life-threatening event where the aircraft is no longer flyable.
Once the aircraft settled into the water, the pilot was able to evacuate from the aircraft before it sank and safely got into a life raft. Amid 9- to 12-foot seas and winds of 25 to 28 mph, the crew of the cruise ship Veendam successfully rescued the pilot, who was in good condition, the Coast Guard said.
According to Cirrus Aircraft, the CAPS has been deployed in 51 incidents, and are responsible for saving a total of 104 lives, including the pilot in Sunday’s crash.
The pilot, an agent of Cirrus Aircraft, was on his way to Australia to deliver the aircraft to an owner.
(Featured Photo Courtesy of Cirrus Aircraft)