The Slatest

Pilot Saved by Giant Airplane-Sized Parachute, Cruise Ship in Amazing Video

The pilot (and sole passenger) of this plane was rescued safely.

U.S. Coast Guard/Handout/Reuters

Truly amazing: Footage, taken Sunday by a Coast Guard plane, of a pilot deploying a “whole-airplane parachute,” landing in the ocean, climbing out of his plane with a life raft, and being rescued by a vessel deployed from a nearby cruise ship. (Whole-plane parachutes have been around for many years but started being manufactured and used regularly in the 1990s.)

As Atlantic writer James Fallows explains at the link above, the pilot of the Cirrus SR-22 plane—travelling from northern California to Hawaii—realized that, due to a faulty valve, he would not have enough fuel to complete his trip. He alerted the proper authorities and directed his aircraft toward the MS Veendam, a Holland America Line cruise ship. He was rescued 250 miles off the coast of Maui.

The BBC wrote about whole-plane parachutes, and considered the feasibility of equipping full-size passenger planes with such devices, in 2013. (Takeaway: It might be possible but the parachute would take up a great deal of space that could otherwise be used for passengers and cargo.)