Dramatic Coast Guard video shows a small single-engine plane carrying just the pilot as it releases its parachute and crashes into the ocean.
The Cirrus SR22 was traveling from Tracy, California, when the pilot radioed authorities at 12:30 p.m. about plans to ditch the aircraft because of dwindling fuel. The plane has a range of about 1,200 miles – only half the distance to Maui, Hawaii – but it was equipped with an auxiliary fuel system.
The Coast Guard directed the plane to go down near a cruise ship, and the pilot deployed the parachute system around 4:45 p.m. and safely got into a life raft. Amid 9- to 12-foot seas and winds of 25 to 28 mph, the cruise-ship crew rescued the pilot, who was in good condition, authorities said.
Parachutes are standard equipment on all aircraft manufactured by Duluth, Minnesota-based Cirrus Aircraft, and are responsible for saving a total of 104 lives, including the pilot in Sunday’s crash.
The plane was in the process of being delivered to Australia.