Cirrus Down -- No 'Chute This Time

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A Cirrus SR22 crashed and burned Monday shortly after departure from Greenwood County Airport in South Carolina, killing all four souls on board. Corky Smith, an NTSB investigator working the site, told The Index-Journal witnesses saw the aircraft lift off the runway, climb to roughly 30 feet, then descend to roughly 10 feet over the runway. Then, before reaching the tree line, the aircraft "went straight up to about 400 feet, and then turned left." Whatever maneuver precipitated that description, it was not one from which the aircraft recovered. The SR22 impacted the ground and exploded. "I went to the crash site; I didn't even see the first piece of scrap. It was just a big burnt area where it had landed," Sheriff's Lt. Jimmy Boggs told the Associated Press. The aircraft, registered to Attic Aircraft Leasing in Marietta, Ga., was operated by AeroAtlanta Flight Center and was flown by Troy Sufferling, 37, of Kennesaw, Ga., with Olmedo Ochoa Jr. (31), Luis Garcia (29), and Manuel Chavez (27) in his charge. Spring has not been a benign season for Cirrus. Last week, mechanical problems stopped an insulin-dependent diabetic pilot who (along with Cirrus) had intended to use the stage of Sun 'n Fun as a launchpad for a record flight in a Cirrus SR22. Just prior to Sun 'n Fun, problems perceived by two separate Cirrus pilots persuaded them to each ride their Cirrus Aircraft Parachute Systems to the ground rather than trust themselves and the aircraft to fly more conventionally to the ground. Monday's crash is the only event of the four to bring fatalities.