By Jeff Todd

PITKIN COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Experts say the parachute system on an airplane that crashed near Aspen earlier this week worked exactly as planned to keep the two people on board safe and injury-free.

(credit: Jane Pargiter, EcoFlight)

Tyler and Kristina Noel, from Wisconsin, had filed a flight plan to make the quick trip from Aspen to Eagle on their Cirrus SR-22 T. Quickly after takeoff they encountered an issue and couldn’t make it back to the airport. The Cirrus Airframe Parachute System was deployed.

(credit: Jane Pargiter, EcoFlight)

“The parachute system is built into that aircraft. It’s a ballistic deployment so it will fire a rocket to pull the parachute out and hold the aircraft in a certain position,” said Kevin Kuhlmann, the Associate Chair of the Department of Aviation and Aerospace at Metro State University of Denver. “It’s nice to know that my only option isn’t just to glide the aircraft and hope I have a patch of land.”

Kevin Kuhlmann, Associate Chair of the Department of Aviation and Aerospace at Metro State University of Denver

Kevin Kuhlmann, Associate Chair of the Department of Aviation and Aerospace at Metro State University of Denver (credit: CBS)

Kuhlmann has been flying for more than 40 years. He believes, when deployed under the right circumstances, the CAPS has never had a fatality.

“To know you could pull the handle on a parachute and just float down to the surface obviously gives great comfort,” Kuhlmann said. “A delay of seconds could end up costing your life when you had an option to float down gently to the earth. “

The parachute was caught in a tree and the plane came to a rest on a steep, snow-covered hillside. Rescue crews took three hours to reach the plane and then just as long to get out.

Because of the difficult terrain, it’s unlikely investigators will get to the plane this winter.

Jeff Todd

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