March 15, 2009, Gaithersburg, Md., Cirrus Design SR22


At about 1340 Eastern time, the airplane was substantially damaged after its Cirrus Airplane Parachute System (CAPS) was deployed shortly after takeoff. The solo private pilot was not injured. Instrument conditions prevailed; an IFR flight plan had been filed.

As the airplane entered clouds, a cabin door “popped open” about two inches, which allowed water and cold air to enter the cockpit. The pilot said he became spatially disoriented and the airplanes attitude varied; however, he was able to stabilize the airplane and intended to return to the departure airport. While maneuvering, with the airplane “in and out of clouds,” it “stalled and started to spin.” The pilot was not able to recall the airplanes airspeed or altitude. The pilot then elected to deploy the CAPS and the airplane subsequently descended toward the ground.


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