The nine most heroic airline pilots of all time
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- 14-08-14, 10:18 PM #1
The nine most heroic airline pilots of all time
The 9 most heroic airline pilots of all time - Telegraph
After a pilot was forced to land a plane one-handed, due to his prosthetic limb falling off, we look at other miraculous airline escapes
Landing in gusty conditions is a minor inconvenience for any pilot. It's a major hassle when your prosthetic arm has just fallen off.
This is precisely what happened to one Flybe captain, according to an Air Accidents Investigation Branch report, details of which emerged this week.
Shortly before touchdown, "his prosthetic limb became detached from the yoke clamp, depriving him of control of the aircraft," it said.
The captain considered getting the co-pilot to take control but concluded that, given the time available and the challenging conditions, his best course of action was to move his right hand from the power levers on to the yoke to regain control.
Fortunately the incident - which occurred on February 12 - ended happily, with the 46-year-old landing safely.
he report went on: "He did this, but with power still applied and possibly a gust affecting the aircraft, a normal touchdown was followed by a bounce, from which the aircraft landed heavily." Here we look back at nine other aviation near-misses.
The Jakarta incident
June 24, 1982
This British Airways flight from Heathrow to Auckland was passing over Jakarta when it ran into volcanic ash from the eruption of Mount Galunggung, resulting in the failure of all four engines. Naturally, there was concern in the cockpit, with the flight engineer exclaiming: “I don't believe it - all four engines have failed!"
The captain, Roger Greaves, tried to reassure passengers with the following statement: “Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. We have a small problem. All four engines have stopped. We are doing our damnedest to get them going again. I trust you are not in too much distress."
Passengers reportedly scribbled notes to loved ones, while Greaves calculated how far the plane might be able to glide before reaching sea level (91 miles he deduced). Luckily, at around 13,500 feet, the engines restarted successfully.
Scary in-flight announcements
More scary in-flight announcements
British Airways Flight 5390
June 10, 1990
In this remarkable incident, on board a BA flight to Malaga with 81 passengers, a badly-fitted windscreen panel failed, sucking the captain, Tim Lancaster, halfway out of the cockpit. His head and torso were outdoors – at 17,300 feet and being battered by 300mph winds – while his legs remained inside, with flight attendants gripping him tightly. Co-pilot Alastair Atchison made an emergency descent, but – due to the sound of rushing air – could not hear air traffic control. He eventually landed safely in Southampton, where Lancaster was treated for frostbite, shock and a broken arm.
The miracle on the Hudson
January 15, 2009
Perhaps the best known incident of recent times, involving the most brilliantly monikered pilot. Chesley Sullenberger III, at the helm of US Airways Flight 1549, managed to land safely on the Hudson River after a flock of Canada geese disabled the aircraft. All 155 passengers survived; Sullenberger’s reward was a book deal with HarperCollins, and early retirement.
The Windsor incident
June 12, 1972
American Airlines Flight 96 from LA to New York ran into trouble soon after a stopover in Detroit, when the rear cargo door suddenly broke off. The subsequent explosive decompression saw part of the floor at the rear of the cabin give way, severing a control cable and disabling one of the engines. Captain Bryce McCormick, who initially believed the plane had suffered a mid-air collision, declared an emergency, while flight attendants took oxygen to passengers (masks did not deploy because the plane was below the 14,000ft limit). The plane returned to Detroit, and - despite being forced to land dangerously fast - McCormick touched down safely.
What happens if you open a plane door?
The Gimli Glider
July 23, 1983
While cruising at 41,000 feet, halfway through a flight from Montreal to Edmonton, Air Canada Flight 143 ran out of juice – due to, shockingly, a refuelling miscalculation caused by a recent switch to the metric system. The problem had not been spotted earlier because of an electronic fault on the aircraft’s instrument panel, and the plane lost all power. Luckily, Captain Bob Pearson was an experienced glider pilot, guiding the 767 to RCAF Station Gimli. The landing was hard and fast – Pearson had to brake so hard he blew two tyres, while the aircraft’s nose fell off, starting a small fire – but all 61 on board survived unharmed.
Aloha Flight 243
April 28, 1988
In 1988, a 737, flown by Aloha Airlines with 90 people on board was en route to Honolulu, cruising at an altitude of 24,000 feet, when a small section of the roof ruptured. The resulting explosive decompression tore off a larger section of the roof, and a 57-year-old flight attendant called Clarabelle Lansing was swept from her seat and out of the hole in the aircraft. Fortunately, all other passengers were belted up, and the pilot - Robert Schornstheimer - managed to land 13 minutes later, avoiding further loss of life.
BA Flight 38
January 17, 2008
Another recent case, BA Flight 38 was just two miles from Heathrow when its engines suddenly failed to respond to the crew’s demand for extra thrust. A build of ice crystals in its fuel lines had caused a restriction in the flow of fuel. The plane landed around 270 metres short of the runway, just beyond the A30. The plane was a write-off, but just one passenger suffered a serious injury. The pilot’s name? Ironically, John Coward.
Cathay Pacific Flight 780
April 13, 2010
In a similar incident to BA Flight 38, this Cathay Pacific service from Surabaya Juanda International Airport in Indonesia suddenly lost the ability to change thrust as it neared Hong Kong, landing at almost twice the recommended speed. Pilots Malcolm Waters and David Hayhoe were given the Polaris Award - from the International Federation of Air Line Pilots' Associations - for their heroism.
Saving a superjumbo
November 4, 2010
The captain of this Qantas flight - Richard Champion de Crespigny - was also given a Polaris Award. Engine number 2 exploded over Indonesia, damaging a wing and causing a fuel tank fire, forcing the plane, an A380 with 469 people on board, to make an emergency landing in Singapore. It blew four tyres when it landed, but no one was hurt.