Family Survives Plane Crash by Parachuting into Northern California Wilderness

Photo: Shelter Cove Fire Department

A Santa Rosa family of three, including a 2-year-old child, miraculously escaped with only minor injuries after their small plane encountered engine trouble and gracefully descended to safety in the Northern California wilderness via an onboard parachute.

The dramatic incident unfolded last Friday when the Cirrus SR22, embarking from Shelter Cove Airport in Humboldt County, destined for Santa Rosa, lost engine power mere minutes after takeoff. Quick thinking by the pilot activated the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS), a lifesaving feature of the aircraft, which allowed the plane to float down into a remote, wooded area near Whitethorn in Mendocino County, just 6 miles from its origin.

Photo: Shelter Cove Fire Department

Despite the plane and its parachute becoming ensnared in trees roughly 100 feet above ground, leading to a gentle fall to the earth, the family emerged from what could have been a catastrophic event with mere scratches and abrasions.

The Shelter Cove Fire Department, seasoned with responding to small aircraft incidents, highlighted the fortunate outcome of this and a previous crash, both resulting in minor injuries but no fatalities.

Photo: Shelter Cove Fire Department

“The coordinated response from our fellow emergency response agencies and the quick action of the witnesses played a crucial role in locating and ensuring the safety of those involved in this incident, including extinguishing a small fire, this is extremely steep and difficult terrain,” wrote the Shelter Cove Fire Department on social media. “Even with the parachute the parties involved were extremely fortunate to only receive minor injuries. We are grateful for the professionalism and dedication demonstrated by everyone involved.”

The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board have taken the reins to investigate the extraordinary event. The Northern California community breathes a sigh of relief as this family’s story adds a remarkable chapter to the lore of miraculous survivals in the face of aerial adversity.

Active NorCal

Telling the Stories of Northern California
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