Matthew Fulton, dailyrecord.co.ukSophie Goodall &
A pilot was sucked out of the cockpit window but survived thanks to a member of the in-flight crew who held on to his ankles. The terrifying ordeal occurred just 13 minutes in to a busy flight from a Birmingham airport to Malaga.
The terrifying incident, which took place on June 20, 1990, saw the windscreen of the plane smashed due to the wrong bolts being fitted, reports the Mirror. Captain Tim Lancaster of British Airways was then sucked through the open window.
The hero of the hour was Cabin crew member Nigel Ogden, who grasped the pilot’s legs just in time and managed to hold on until the plane landed safely at Southampton Airport.
Nigel recounted how Captain Lancaster’s body was ‘doubled over round the top of the aircraft’, ‘in a U-shape around the windows’. Panic set in as the cabin crew member started suffering frostbite and his grip loosened.
He told the Sydney Morning Herald: “There was an enormous explosion. I whipped round and saw the front windscreen had disappeared and Tim, the pilot, was going out through it – he had been sucked out of his seat belt and all I could see were his legs.
“I jumped over the control column and grabbed him round his waist to avoid him going out completely.”
A second flight attendant, John Heward came to the rescue and managed to grab on to Tim’s belt for further stability. It was said the pilot’s head was repeatedly banging against the side of the aircraft.
Nigel added: “His face was banging against the window with blood coming out of his nose and the side of his head, his arms were flailing and seemed about six feet long.”
Meanwhile co-pilot Alistair Atchison had the unenviable task of landing the plane safely and instructed his colleagues not to release their grip, dropping to an altitude in which the passengers and crew could safely breathe after an emergency descent.
Captain Lancaster was rushed to a local hospital and did survive the brush with death but suffered fractures and bruising. No passengers onboard the aircraft were harmed. The cause of the malfunction was due to a a fitter using the wrong bolts on the windscreen some 27 hours before the journey.
All of the crew would fly again just weeks later with the pilot back in the cockpit five months after the ordeal. He worked for BA until 2003 and was awarded the Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Service in the Air.