Crash Pilot Produced Video Of Rescue


A Minnesota pilot who pulled the parachute on his Cirrus SR22 over a wilderness area of Quebec says he hopes his well-documented account of his experience can help others if they find themselves in similar straits. Matt Letinen, the CEO of a Minnesota mining company, was flying back from a mine his company operates in Labrador when the engine failed in the Cirrus. He glided away from a lake and pulled the handle over dense bush with the nearest airport, Sept Iles, about 60 miles away. The aircraft settled on a large tree that pierced the cabin and tore his shorts. He got out of the wreck and was able to contact rescue services and his family with a personal tracking device and suddenly had time on his hands.

He said he felt “very compelled to document the experience” and started shooting video with his cellphone. What resulted was an edited video, complete with soundtrack, that points out the things that went right and wrong with his crash. It also showed how RCAF search and rescue personnel coordinate a successful rescue. All in all, Lehtinen scored pretty highly on the survival test and earned praise from his rescuers for his equipment and deliberate efforts to aid the rescue. Lehtinen criticized himself for not carrying any food, water or other supplies that would have been handy and eventually necessary if he hadn’t been plucked out of the woods within a few hours.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.


  1. Great outcome, but am I correct to assume that there was a large flat area and a lake just a few miles from where he pulled the chute? He was losing oil pressure… surely that would not prevent the aircraft gliding to what would have been a much easier area to be extracted from, notwithstanding he may not have had the altitude. I often wonder if pilots are just to quick to descend under canopy, although granted I don’t have the full picture from this short snippet.

  2. I had the exact same though. “He glided away from a lake”. A controlled landing along the shoreline may have been preferable to an uncontrolled landing in the trees where the wreckage may have been invisible to searchers.

  3. He’s a Cirrus pilot with a Cirrus mentality, so, he does Cirrus things like producing this video.

  4. Monday morning quarterbacks are a dime a dozen. I don’t care what procedures were followed or what other choices someone that wasn’t there thinks they might have made. This crash was a success in every way. There was no loss of life (or even an injury it seems), no injuries on the ground, and of much less importance, there was little property damage. Kudos to the pilot for his decision making and execution, and to Cirrus for their design that quite possibly saved a life. Nothing is more important.

  5. Scott H. is right! Those who second guess what a pilot does most likely have never been in an extreme emergency situation where time compresses and decisions making is critical. The best example of this was portrayed in the movie “Sully”. The “experts” were criticizing Capt. Sullenbergers decision for not returning immediately to LGA and landing in the Hudson River instead. What Sully was able to do was prove the luxury of time is not there in these situations. The simulator pilots knew the engines would fail and immediately turned to LGA and successfully landed the airplane, but when given the 50+ seconds it took to realize what was happening, no one made it to the airport.

    My point is simply that until you are faced with one of these life or death time critical events, don’t criticize for the decisions he/she makes that lead to a successful outcome. And if that outcome wasn’t successful, then only after all facts are known.

  6. Dear Monday Morning Quarterbacks from South of the Border. Since very few of you have had the distinct pleasure of flying over northern Quebec – or for that matter, Northern Ontario, let me assure you that there are no sandy beaches abutting the lakes. While that may have looked nice and smooth from the few seconds of images you saw, it was probably rocks. Not stones, rocks. Areas beside lakes in the north are likely to be one of two things, swamps filled with stumps or rocky fields with the occasional tree growing in a crack in the rocks.
    I have no doubt that the pilot did the right thing. Isn’t there an old saying, “if you can walk away from it . . ” Well, he did. And kudos to the RCAF S&R folks for getting him out so quickly. Marvellous job!

    • I absolutely agree!

      In my experience, to have an engine FAILURE, have the experience & local knowledge, to find a SAFE place, & then pull the CAPS, is to me, an extremely well-trained logical thinker.

      As I’ve heard, once the engine has failed, the AIRCRAFT has failed & let YOU down, & it now BELONGS to the insurance company. It’s only useful purpose from then on, is to NOT kill you!

      Seems everything went as I would hope it might for ME!

  7. >>The best example of [second guessing] was portrayed in the movie “Sully”. The “experts” were criticizing Capt. Sullenbergers decision for not returning immediately to LGA and landing in the Hudson River instead.<<

    Ok, except for one thing. There were never really any such criticizing experts. The NTSB never actually went after Sully as depicted in the movie. The movie producers added that as a mechanism to move the plot along in the film, and keep the audience engaged. Sully himself was never happy about that, and he made the producers change the names of those characters in the movie investigation. All of the other characters in the movie have their real names because their behavior is more accurately portrayed.

    The real NTSB investigators knew all along that one must account for normal reaction time. Yes, they tested to see if it was possible to return to LGA, but they never said that the real crew should have been able to do it. The "trial" you saw in the movie never really happened like that. That part was just Hollywood.

  8. interesting to see that under the ‘chute she still came down with enough force for that tree to penetate the cabin floor…looks like about 4 inches towards the right, and the story would have been much different…

  9. Let me see if I got this right: He landed in an old-growth forest right-side up. His landing was such that he wasn’t injured and thus ambulatory, so he was able to assist in his rescue. He had an ELT and a PLB. He had sufficient survival gear to light a fire and make a smoke signal (Okay, so I could barely see smoke in that video but searchers were able to from from miles away? Impressive). His efforts resulted in a back-country rescue in less than 6 hours according to his video timeline. And he shot a cool video so every other pilot in the world could learn from the experience and perhaps be even more prepared for such an event. Here is what I found worthy of criticism in this video: ……………………. yes, nothing.