Runaway Powered Parachute Takes Off Without Pilot
On August 14, 2010, a powered parachute (PPC) got away from its pilot at a fly-in rally in Tracy, California, and took off on its own. Witnesses stated that the pilot was unable to start the engine with the electric starter, so he got out to start it by hand with the pull starter. It fired up at full throttle. He couldn’t reach the throttle before he was knocked down and run over by the rear tire. The incident was captured on video.
The chute kited up, and the PPC took off just barely missing other pilots on the ground. The Six Chuter PPC was one of five machines preparing to take off in the second round of a competition. It began flying in the pattern with other PPCs that were competing in the contest. Luckily it missed the other competitors and began spiraling upwards until it was lost from sight at about 5,000 feet. Observers said it was doing aerobatic maneuvers not typical for such aircraft. Two other pilots took off to find it but were unsuccessful. It headed northwest with about two hours of fuel on board. The FAA, local police, and the nearby Stockton airport tower were all notified. The search for the aircraft ended a week later when it was spotted in a tree near Napa, California, about 70 miles away.
Runaway aircraft incidents which have occurred in all types of aircraft are easily prevented by adherence to simple basic safety procedures. Luckily in this incident no one was injured except the pilot who suffered minor scrapes and bruises. Hopefully the video below will remind all pilots to be more careful, and remind bystanders to be ever vigilant when in the vicinity of operating aircraft.