Parachute built into plane saves pilot in Dixie emergency landing

This image, taken from a video on the Cirrus website, shows the company's parachute system deploying. The same system played a role in the Dixie County emergency landing.

Cirrus Aircraft
Published: Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 8:11 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 11:20 p.m.

A pilot escaped significant injury Thursday evening by deploying a parachute built into the single-engine plane he was flying, allowing it to drift down onto a field in Dixie County for an emergency landing.

According to the Dixie County Sheriff's Office, pilot instructor Jesse Evans, 28, a resident of the Lake County town of Sorrento, was alone in the 2003, four-seat Cirrus plane when he heard noises coming from the plane's engine.

"He was at about 9,000 feet when that happened and he radioed the (Federal Aviation Administration)," said sheriff's spokesman Maj. Scott Harden.

Evans was directed toward the municipal airport in Cross City.

"When he realized he was not going to make it there, he deployed the plane's parachute," Harden said.

The parachute, approximately 55 feet in diameter, put the plane down in a field about 14 miles north of Old Town.

The landing was on property where timber had recently been harvested to the northeast of the intersection of State Road 349 and County Road 353.

"It was a rough landing with the stumps and roots and all still there," Harden said, "but he really didn't get hurt."

The plane is registered to Deep South Express of Crystal River.

Evans told the investigating officials the engine problem happened while he was on his way to Leesburg after dropping off the plane's owner in Alabama.

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