(LANCASTER, Texas) — A pilot and his wife are lucky to be alive after narrowly escaping a fiery airplane crash in Texas.
The couple, speaking in an exclusive interview with ABC News, said the parachute attached to the plane is the only reason they made it out alive after they encountered a high-voltage power line.
Mahmood Ataee, a pilot for nearly four decades, and wife Laura Ataee of Grand Prairie, Texas, had begun their descent into Lancaster Regional Airport, south of Dallas, when they say they knew something wasn’t right.
“That’s when we felt the jolt and we hit the power line; high voltage power line,” Mahmood Ataee said. “I went up to grab the handle for the parachute, but my wife had already pulled it.”
The parachute, a large ballistic recovery chute, tangled in the power lines, slowing the plane’s descent and stopping it from making impact, leaving the couple dangling not far from the ground.
“The nose of the plane was maybe two feet from the ground,” Ataee said.
He and his wife managed to escape, jumping to safety and avoiding being electrocuted as the plane went up in flames.
Connie Starek, who witnessed the crash from her backyard, said it sounded like an explosion, “almost like a bomb going off.”
Tens of thousands of small planes are equipped with similar parachutes, and they have been known to save lives. In January, a 25-year-old pilot, Lou Morton, deployed his parachute as his plane plummeted toward the Pacific Ocean. He was later saved by the Coast Guard.
The parachute on the Ataees’ plane wasn’t designed to be deployed so close to the ground, but it still helped to keep them alive. Laura Ataee suffered a broken clavicle in the incident, but says it won’t stop her from getting back in the air.
“I can’t wait,” she said. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to get another plane and, of course, it will have a parachute.”
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