A pilot of a small plane who was struggling with mechanical problems after takeoff deployed a rocket-propelled parachute, floated to earth and walked away from a dramatic crash this afternoon in Gaithersburg, authorities said.
Residents in the Flower Hill subdivision adjacent to the Montgomery County Airpark said they knew something was wrong at about 1:45 p.m. when they heard the pitch of an airplane engine begin to fluctuate overhead.
Michael McCary said he walked outside onto his deck to begin looking for the plane when he heard what sounded like an explosion.
The noise was the impact of the four-seat Cirrus SR-22 coming down through trees and breaking off its left wing on a delivery truck parked along Mallory Place near Snouffers School Road -- less than a half-mile south of the airpark's runway.
"I was looking actually for smoke and then I saw a parachute in the trees," McCary said.
McCary said he arrived at the crash site moments before paramedics and spoke with the pilot, who was standing near the plane in a blue sweater and jeans. "He said he was a little shaken, but otherwise fine," McCary said.