Yesterday a Cirrus SR22, N479SR, encountered some sort of problem and used the CAPS "Cirrus Airframe Parachute System", a ballistic recovery system, to end the flight resulting in no injury to the sole person on board, the pilot.
Ballistic Recovery Systems (BRS) have been around since 1980, and the CAPS system has been deployed some 14 times since its introduction. Much to the surprise of the engineers those aircraft that deployed the system were repairable, with the exception of those that landed in water.
The BRS system uses a small solid fuel rocket to deploy the full canopy above the aircraft within seconds, and the aircraft uses the landing gear to cushion the impact with the ground. The first ballistic recovery parachutes were on the market in 1982, and the first deployment was in 1983. Between then and April 2007, over 300 people were aboard 201 aircraft which deployed BRS parachutes; most of whose lives were presumably saved by those parachute deployments.
BRS are available for a wide range of aircraft and light sport aircraft, and certainly have increased the safety of pilots flying aircraft. The BRS concept came into being when a hang glider pilot, Boris Popov, survived a 400' fall in partially collapsed hang glider. He then invented the system which would allow full size aircraft to utilize the system to safely lower pilots and passengers to the ground after an airframe failure or in-flight emergency. You can read more about this interesting system at Wikipedia.
Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch!
My first wife didn't like to fly, either.
— Gordon Baxter