Cruise ship rescues ditched Cirrus pilot, passenger

Cruise ship passengers aboard the Regal Princess got more than they paid for when crew raced to a ditched Cirrus bobbing in the Caribbean Ocean after a ballistic recovery system parachute deployment March 5.

The occupants of a Cirrus SR22 were rescued at sea by Princess Cruise Lines crew after the pilot deployed the whole-aircraft parachute and ditched near Grand Turk Island in the Caribbean Ocean March 5. Photo courtesy of Brandon Cobos.

The Miami New Times reported that ship passengers “cheered from the deck” as a rescue boat raced to scoop up the two survivors during a “stunning rescue” at sea.

A video captured by cruise passenger and student pilot Brandon Cobos of Tennessee shows a person wearing a yellow life preserver waving from the deck of an orange speedboat as the craft approaches the ship.

Cobos also captured video of a U.S. Coast Guard aircraft circling the area as the rescue unfolded and a spokesperson confirmed no injuries were reported.

“It was pretty crazy,” Cobos said via Facebook messenger, “but you always practice and are prepared for moments like these and [I’m] glad these men were able to stay cool-headed and follow everything by the book.”

Cobos said he practiced engine failures during his own training and put himself in the Cirrus pilot’s shoes. Pilots “hope you never have to use” an engine failure scenario in reality but need to be prepared just in case.

“I figured they had to have some good altitude and decent warning that they were going down in order to prepare the life raft and deploy the chute.”

The parachute deployment allegedly occurred after an engine out situation more than 20 miles southeast of Grand Turk Island in the Turks and Caicos.

BRS Aerospace, which makes the whole-aircraft recovery system for the aircraft manufacturer, noted in a news release that the two most recent “saves” were the 400th and 401st, and marked a milestone. The parachute manufacturer added that “more than 30,000 systems have been installed during the past 35 years” on all types of aircraft and “approximately one of every 120 systems” were activated “as a last resort” for pilots and passengers facing potentially life-threatening situations.

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