Flying is one of the most popular ways for people to traverse all over the globe. Whether they’re traveling for a couple of hours or a couple of days, flying undoubtedly makes everything easier.
While traveling by air is incredibly safe, accidents still do happen. In those situations, having a highly-trained crew on board can mean the difference between life and death.
Unfortunately, during one routine flight from England to Spain, disaster struck. The way the crew responded, however, would change the fate of one man forever…
In 1990, a British Airways plane headed to to Málaga, Spain, from Birmingham, England, malfunctioned, nearly taking the life of one of the pilots on board. The crisis lasted just 20 minutes, but it was one that no one on that flight would ever forget.
Captain Tim Lancaster, 42, and his co-pilot, Alastair Atchison, 39, were both exceptionally experienced pilots. When they took off from the airport in Birmingham at 7:30 a.m. that morning, it seemed like everything was going as it should.
Then, after they were in the air for just 15 minutes, they heard a loud bang. Suddenly, Tim’s windshield was sucked out of the plane and sent flying into the sky. This caused immediate decompression inside the cockpit, and before anyone could blink, Tim was sucked out of the plane’s window…
Tim’s entire body was pulled out of the plane—except for his legs, which managed to get caught on the flight controls. He immediately passed out in the thin air of the higher atmosphere and was tossed around in the powerful winds at 23,000 feet in the air.
Thankfully, flight attendant Nigel Ogden was standing on the flight deck when Tim was sucked out of the window. Nigel didn’t hesitate; he immediately grabbed Tim’s belt and held onto the man for dear life.
The situation was getting worse. Nigel himself began suffering frostbite and total exhaustion just by holding onto Tim. Thankfully, another flight attendant, Simon Rogers, was standing by and ready to take over Nigel’s duties. The two men refused to let go of their captain.
All of the crew inside of the plane were sure that Tim had already died. They heard the sound of his head banging against the cockpit and they feared the absolute worse. Still, they did not want to let go of his body in case it was pulled into the plane’s engines and they would never be able to recover it.
The crew requested permission to make an emergency landing at an airport in Southhampton, England. They were waved in and were shocked to find once they landed that Tim was still alive! He was immediately rushed to the hospital. Shockingly, the whole ordeal had lasted no more than 22 minutes.
In the hospital, Tim was treated for his injuries. He suffered from frostbite, fractures to his right arm and right thumb, and a fracture in his left wrist. Amazingly he was able to return to work in less than five months after the accident.
As a result of this disaster, British Airways now affixes their windshields with bolts that are attached from the inside of the plane. This makes them less susceptible to the kind of strain that nearly cost Tim and the rest of the crew their lives.
While accidents like this one are rare, they definitely serve as a reminder of just how important it is to have experienced and well-trained crew members aboard your vessel. In the case of a freak accident, their quick-thinking could save lives!
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