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BUCKHANNON -- A single-engine plane crashed on Brushy Fork Road near Buckhannon. Thirty year-old James Meadows of Hendersonville, Tennessee, was getting ready to land at the Upshur County Regional Airport around 5:30 PM when the motor apparently quit on his plane. The accident was reported about 6 p.m. Saturday by witnesses who saw the plane, a Cirrus SR 22, go down.

Fortunately, the plane was still above the altitude required to deploy the emergency parachute, which allowed Meadows to drift to the ground, where he just skimmed a truck driven by Billy King, 42, of Buckhannon, ripping off a side mirror. The plane came to a rest on Brushy Fork Road, about 100 yards from the intersection with Route 33. King, who was on his way to work, said he initially thought a power line had fallen on his vehicle. Both he and the pilot were uninjured, but shaken, according to Queen. “I must have had angels watching over me,” King said of the freak accident.

The Cirrus SR 22 plane was equipped with a state-of-the-art parachute-safety system, which the pilot used to land the disabled aircraft. Neither the pilot or driver of the truck were injured. Officials with the Department of Transportation, West Virginia State Police, Upshur County Sheriff’s Office and Federal Aviation Administration currently are investigating.

The CAPS™ System Saves Lives

The original inspiration for the whole-airplane parachute on the Cirrus airplane was a midair collision that could have led to tragedy. But instead it led to the creation of the Cirrus Airframe Parachute

System (CAPS™) – the most significant safety innovation in over a half-century of general aviation.
“From the start of our company, each and every day, the profound passion for everyone at Cirrus is to create safer airplanes, safer pilots and safer skies. Not just for Cirrus pilots, but all pilots. Flying safely will always be our most fundamental mission.” a Cirrus Spokesperson stated. 

The parachute system is designed to protect occupants in the event of an emergency by lowering the aircraft to the ground after deployment. CAPS revolutionized general aviation safety by providing an additional measure of safety to occupants, similar in theory to the role of seatbelts in automobiles. No other certified general aviation aircraft manufacturer in the world provides this safety feature as standard equipment.

In the event of an in-flight emergency, pulling the red CAPS handle on the ceiling inside the cockpit deploys a solid-fuel rocket out a hatch that covers the concealed compartment where the parachute is stored. As the rocket carries the parachute rearward from the back of the airplane, the embedded CAPS airplane harness straps release from the fuselage. Within seconds, the 65’ diameter canopy will unfurl, controlling the aircraft rate of descent. The final landing is absorbed by the specialized landing gear, a roll cage and Cirrus Energy Absorbing Technology (CEAT™) seats.