CAPS min alt.


I’m new on the guest list and have not yet joined as I am a SR-20/22 renter. I used to own a Piper Lance and a B55 Baron. I’d love to own a -22 one day, but it’s hard for me to justify $25-35k a year to run it, plus capital investment, for a 100% pleasure-mission toy.

So, not being able to search the COPA member forums (right?), what is the concensus of minumum altitude for CAPS deployment? 700’? Any historical comparisons of landing on an unimproved surface, ie. plowed field, vs. pulling the chute and trying to hit the same surface? I know, however, every situation is different and prudent judgement perseveres. I understand nearly all CAPS deployments (below Vpd speed) were survivable, although the airframe is totaled?

Thanks, you guys!


ATP B757/767, SR-20/22 renter!


It’s worth joining even if you are just renting, especially if you hope to own a Cirrus one day. To answer your questions, there is about a 400’ loss of altitude before the plane is stabilized under the canopy, so the lower you are below 400’ AGL, the higher the chances of injury. There are many different opinions about when to pull, vs. when to try to land. Every pilot has to make their own calculation, but it’s important to think it through on the ground. For me, if I’m not very sure I can land on a runway or a road that I’m familiar with, I’d pull no lower than 1000 ft. AGL, or if I never made it to 1000’ I’d pull if above 400’ AGL. Below that, it depends on what’s on the ground. There are too many things on/near the ground that can kill you (including pilot error) that you won’t know about until it’s too late to pull. I’m insured, so why take the risk. If I have the altitude, pull. I’d think that a plowed field is especially dangerous. By the way, planes can and have been repaired after a pull, but it’s not cheap.

Wrong! If you fly a Cirrus, then you should invest in your own safety by joining COPA for $65. COPA members have an astoundingly lower rate of involvement in fatal accidents than non-members. Like 1/4! You are worth it!

As Marc gave you a succinct response to all of your questions, let me add some details for the benefit of those reading the Guest forums.

No consensus.

What is really, really hard is to read the accident reports where Cirrus pilots ride the plane into the ground. At least one accident from 12,000 feet in a 15-turn spin. With a family of four aboard. And the parachute rocket deployed on impact.

If you are asking the question and fly a Cirrus, then you need to practice, just not talk about it. Cory Lidle is on videotape during a sports interview talking about pulling the parachute handle if anything goes wrong. And then soon after hits a building in a Cirrus SR20.

Yup, lots of variations. First off-airport landing in a Cirrus into a corn field resulted in two serious injuries, one permanently paralyzed. Chute landings have been into shrubs, trees, power lines, communication towers, residential street, river bay, retention pond, canal, field, even a mountain scree field. Only fatalities have been when pulling the chute too low (528’ in a 3-turn spin and about 200’) or when airspeed is too high (twice Vpd).

Great introduction to Cirrus knowledge. But even more on the member side. And let me encourage you to consider a Cirrus Pilot Proficiency Program weekend. Combine the best flight and ground instruction in a Cirrus with social interaction with amazing groups of Cirrus pilots.

Have a great Cirrus day! [;)]


I’m also an occasional Cirrus renter. I’ve been a COPA member since the organization started and the annual dues have been among the best value-for-$ I’ve experienced in aviation. By all means join if you’re serious about flying this plane and want to learn more.