BRS Save Number ?
By: Russ Hauser
I was flying with two of my buddies in the fall after most of the corn, wheat and beans had been harvested. Two of us were doing some "crop dusting" and, at times, actually touching down in the fields. I had been hopping over power and tree lines between the fields when I approached a tree line with a nice wide gap. Popping up to maybe 10 or 20 feet to cross between the trees and over the road bordering the field, I saw the power lines and... bump bump... hit them. The lines seemed to pass just over my head. There was absolutely no time to react. In fact, I doubt that a second had elapsed between seeing them and hitting them.
For a few shocked seconds I just held my altitude (such as it was) waiting for bad things to happen. However, my Challenger seemed to be fine and everything seemed to be working. I called one of my friends to come over to check the plane for damage and he said he couldn't see any. I hadn't said on the radio what I had done and why I was concerned (you never know who might be monitoring). I could not understand why the lines had not taken out the prop. I was also concerned that I might have broken the lines causing a bunch of folks a lot of inconvenience.
We continued on to our destination where an inspection showed how I had dodged the bullet.
I built my Challenger in 1995 and the canister style BRS chute was the only option. The chute canister is mounted on the root tube and is angled back 15 or 20 degrees. The power lines had struck the rocket tube at the mid-point of its length, slid up the tube and stripped off the plastic cap. They then bounced into the canister, cracking its cover, and were bounced high enough to clear the prop arc. There was also a black mark out on the right wing, just above the front spar at the first rib inboard from the tip.
The three of us had a discussion and came to two conclusions. First, it's a good thing there was no time to react because anything I would have done would have been absolutely wrong. At my altitude, down would be bad because that would have more than likely put the lines in the prop arc. Up would have put those lines in the windscreen and under the wings. Second, although my Challenger has a single seat, we agreed I wasn't alone that day.
When I called BRS to order replacement covers for the canister and rocket tube they wanted to know how they had been broken. When I related the story they said now they had heard everything but didn't think they would add my "save" to their list of successes.
I haven't done much "dusting" since that day but when I occasionally indulge myself, I stay above treetop level.