Cirrus Probes Begins

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Spiral Dive Preceded Parachute 'Save'...

Canadian authorities have determined a Cirrus SR20 was in a potentially-deadly spiral dive when the pilot deployed the aircraft's emergency parachute over the rugged mountains of southern British Columbia last Thursday. "We have radar data showing the aircraft in a spiral before it goes off radar,"said Bill Yearwood, who heads the Transportation Safety Board's regional office in Vancouver. "It did two 360s." Yearwood wouldn't speculate on why the Cirrus, carrying the pilot Albert Kolk, two other men and a 14-year-old boy, went into the spiral but he did confirm that the pilot "talked about some fuel management problems" during initial interviews with investigators. Kolk told the Vancouver Sun that the fuel load became unbalanced and the aircraft, while on autopilot, became uncontrollable. There were also reports of significant turbulence in the area, which has 9,000 foot peaks. Yearwood said investigators need to examine the plane to verify the fuel state and whether or not the autopilot was engaged. He wouldn't characterize the plane as being out of control because he said they can't yet rule out the possibility that the pilot intended to enter the spiral dive--at night over some of the most forbidding terrain anywhere. The TSB hoped to recover the plane Tuesday but the terrain was posing a challenge. The aircraft came to rest on rock slide with a 45-degree slope.