National News

Man says he owes his life to an emergency airplane parachute

Posted June 22, 2018 10:46 a.m. EDT

— A Phoenix man says he's lucky to be alive after walking away from a fiery plane crash Tuesday.

"I wasn't thinking, I wasn't feeling," said Ken Kendall, a passenger in the single-engine aircraft. "I was just: you have to get out."

The Cirrus SR22 was piloted by Phoenix-area attorney Sam Moeller. What started as a routine business trip from Scottsdale to Lake Havasu took a dramatic turn when the airplane's engine began overheating.

"The engine pretty rapidly got worse, started spraying oil all over the windshield, we're losing altitude," Kendall said.

And with the nearest airport out of reach, Moeller decided to deploy the airplane's emergency parachute about 24 miles northwest of Wickenburg.

"It's pretty intense because you're moving, you know, a hundred plus miles per hour, and that very large parachute deploys, the negative G's are extremely intense," Kendall said.

According to the NTSB, the aircraft then came down in a stand of trees before it was consumed by fire.

While Kendall says he walked away with little but whiplash and singed hairs, Moeller suffered a broken back and a hand injury.

Kendall says Moeller's fast decision-making and the parachute prevented the crash from becoming deadly.

"Very, very likely that saved our lives," Kendall said.