photo of manley butler

Manley C. Butler, Jr.

Business Founder (Retired)

B.S. ASE 1980, The University of Texas at Austin

Manley Butler founded Butler Parachute Systems, Inc. (BPS) in 1979 while attending UT Austin as an undergraduate student where he graduated with a B.S. in aerospace engineering. What began as a one-man, back-bedroom company now has 50+ employees operating in 47,000+SF, with sales approaching $10 million per year. Butler provides top-level corporate leadership in at the company.

Bulter’s career in aviation began in the U.S. Navy (1973-76) when he was an acoustic sensor analyst on the S-3A Viking. Although he did not make his first jump until 1973, he was “hooked” and thus pursued a career in the parachute industry. 

On April 6, 1999, Butler was awarded the U.S. Patent 5,890,678 for Device to Control Inflation Characteristics of Parachutes. The Sombrero SliderTM is one of the most significant devices ever developed for use with round parachutes. 

Following graduation from UT with a degree in aerospace engineering in December 1980, Butler worked for Para-Flite Inc. in New Jersey for one year then returned to Austin. From 1983-86, he worked in parachute engineering for the Naval Weapons Center (NWC), China Lake, CA, as project manager for projects including the Aircrew Gliding Escape System (AGES) Program, which concluded with a successful in-flight ejection seat test at 500+ knots. 

While at NWC, Butler operated BPS part-time. After leaving NWC, he moved BPS to California City, CA, near Edwards AFB and the Mojave Air & Spaceport, providing ready access to some of the most exciting aerospace ventures in the world. After exposure to that customer base, BPS now basically “owns” the market for test pilots flying high-performance, non-ejection-seat aircraft, and BPS parachutes are used by many large aircraft companies (Bombardier, Scaled, Virgin, Learjet, etc.). Well known BPS users include Dick Rutan (1986, Voyager World Flight); Mike Melville (2004, first civilian astronaut, SpaceShipOne), and of special note, Pete Seibold who in 2014, survived the in-flight transonic break-up of SpaceShip Two.  

BPS also provides spin/deep stall recovery parachute systems for flight test operations. BPS has produced recovery systems for many significant UAV projects including the General Atomics Predator and the AAI Shadow.

In 1995, Bulter moved BPS to Roanoke, Virginia. The primary BPS production products are emergency parachute systems manufactured under FAA TSO-C23 and Part 21 QC. During CY2015 BPS was selected to replace the aircrew parachutes on all USAF AC-130 gunships (~1,600 systems) and now has a $40.8M contract (FY2018, 5-year IDIQ) to replace the aircrew parachutes in all USAF C-130’s (~4,440 systems).