Pilot, Skydivers Bail Out Of Damaged Jump Plane


All seven people aboard a turbine-powered Cessna 206 safely parachuted from a skydiving plane in Missouri on Saturday. The modified Cessna Super Skywagon, with a 550-horsepower Pratt & Whitney turboprop, was at 14,000 feet over Butler County when a “premature parachute release” fouled the tail and possibly damaged it. Everyone, including the pilot, got out before the plane crashed in a field.

The incident made headlines in Butler County and needed some explaining by authorities. “All parachuters on the plane exited prior to the pilot leaving the plane,” the Butler County Sheriff’s Office said in a second, updated news release. “We thought that would be evident by the line that says everyone was treated and released.” The NTSB will investigate.

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. There will likely be video of this event as videoing jumps is quite commonplace. It should help to explain what happened.

    Based solely on the line “‘premature parachute release’ fouled the tail and possibly damaged it,” and the altitude (14,000), it sounds like someone had their chute open up while climbing out.

    The ‘pin’ that holds a rig closed can be dislodged while getting in and moving around inside the plane. It’s standard practice for everyone to conduct a ‘pin check’ prior to opening the door on jump run to make sure the pin (and reserve handles, and pilot chutes, etc .) are in place before the wind blast can dislodge them.

    Also it’s common on Cessnas to climb out on the gear and strut to set up a multiple person exit, giving more time for the prop blade to tug at loose equipment.

    In any event, it sounds here like the canopy went into or over the tail. The skydiver would’ve been yanked off the strut/out the door and ended up hanging underneath. Lots of drag if not outright damage or jammed controls.

    The skydiver would’ve pulled their cut-away handle and landed on their reserve chute. But that usually leaves the main canopy still wrapped around the tail. The rest of the skydivers would simply pile out the door, followed by the pilot with their emergency rig.

    Hopefully there’s video that will clear it all up. The best part is, no one was hurt.

  2. Jeezzz….very early in flying years…VERY…I was flying jumpers in a Cherokee Six with the door removed. After landing one day, a WAYMO educated pilot asked me where MY ‘chute was? Whaaaattt..??? “I ain’t jumping! I’m the pilot!”…..eh….no, that just ain’t right……..and I decided THAT was the end of my ‘flying jumpers’…..

  3. I flew skydivers in a Cessna 180; probably a thousand flights.
    A parachute on the pilot was a requirement of the STC for the Jump Door.
    The reason given was the possibility of a cabin deployment and a chute around the tail, as well as possibly taking out the control cables in the door post.
    Never used the chute; but wore it happily!