I flew in an ultralight ONCE. The hanger next to mine had a two seater ultralight and the owner invited me to take a flight with him. It was fun until I asked what the large cylindrical contraption was on top of the center of the fuselage and he told me it was a "ballistic parachute" in case of a catastrophic airframe failure. That was enough for me.
Sounds like you flew with "Loopin' Larry"....he was a character!
I always flew with a parachute - it's not a license to be stupid but a second chance if something happens.
The ballistic and rocket propelled chutes will save you down to about 100 feet as they are very fast to deploy.
Never had to use one in 30 plus years and over 4000 hours of flying but by the same token, I've never had to use my pistol either, but it's there, available if I need it.
2700 of those hours were in the drivers seat as an instructor and I have a box full of shirt tails.
After that, I could never get comfortable in other small planes that didn't have one.
I was involved with the industry during the development of the recovery systems.
One of the notable guys, Jim Handbury was known to take a perfectly good ultralight up to 3000-4000 feet and cut the wing wires to simulate catastrophic airframe failure.
They used that actual footage in their promo videos in the early 80's and it was something to see - after he had cut the wires, he had to dive the aircraft, then do a sharp pull-up to make the wing fail before he deployed the chute.
The initial testing on ultralights went further and there is a recovery system for small 2 and 4 place general aviation aircraft available now.
This was one of my favorites.
It's a Quicksilver MX Super from mid 1980.
Fully aerobatic with +9/-8G rating, inverted fuel system, semi-symetrical wings that flys upside down nicely, does loops about 200 feet in diameter and pulls enough G's to put bruises on your butt and a outside push-over to inverted is such a head rush.
Notice the rocket propelled recovery chute on the back axle.