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Airplane's Parachute Credited With Saving 3 Lives (VIDEO)

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DANBURY, Conn. -- A parachute that softened the landing of an airplane that encountered mechanical problems saved the lives of the three men on board, an airport official said Wednesday.

The single-engine Cirrus SR-20, which was traveling from Groton to Danbury, was two miles from the Danbury Municipal Airport on Tuesday night when the pilot alerted authorities he planned to deploy the parachute, airport operations manager Mike Safranek said.

"The plane with the parachute deployed touched down majestically right in the middle of a parking lot," Safranek said. "It clearly saved their lives."

Safranek said the pilot is a licensed instructor who was giving a lesson to a student. The third man was the student's friend. He said all three were shaken up, but none had serious injuries.

The Cirrus parachute system was activated 39 times since 2002 through mid-December of last year, according to the Cirrus Owners and Pilots Association. It says 31 of those deployments are considered successful and they involved 62 survivors.

The system, which can only be deployed within certain a speed and altitude, uses a rocket-fired parachute to slow the plane's descent.

The plane that went down in Danbury was built in 2008 and registered to Kenyon Flight in West Hartford, Conn. The cause of the accident is under investigation.

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