Pilot Lionel Morrison was the first person to try pulling the ripcord of a parachute designed for his small airplane when he lost a chunk of wing over Dallas.
"...I was like, 'I hope it works,'" he said.
The rocket-powered chute broke the plane's 135-mph fall and guided it gently to a landing near a golf course. "When I first hit the ground and I knew that the airplane was in one piece, I was in one piece, I was elated," he said.
Since then, the chute has been installed on 18,000 small planes, saving the lives of two other pilots. It's now a proven safety device for small planes and NASA is funding research to use it for much larger craft. Source