A brave pilot landed a passenger jet ‘blind’ after giant hailstones smashed the cockpit’s windscreen and almost tore off its nose cone.
The road to being a hero:
- Unexpected hail during thunder storm
- Giant hailstones cracked cockpit windows at 1,300 metres altitude
- Nose cone of plane almost torn off
- Auto pilot damaged
- Permitted to try and land at airport even though it has been closed due to very bad weather
- No view of runway approach
- Saved 127 lives
- Praised by aviation experts and pilots alike
- Awarded with Ukrainian Order of Courage.
A pilot’s heroic emergency landing at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport with 121 passengers and six crew members on board are captured in a gripping video while pictures show the devastating damage to the Airbus 320.
The sudden unexpected hail during a thunder storm had passengers crying and praying as the stricken plane came in for a shaky landing.
A voice on the ground is heard saying in the video: “He won’t do it, he won’t do it.”
Captain Alexander Akopov said he and other crew were celebrating as if it was a “second birthday” after his life-saving heroics in coping with damage caused by hailstones the size of hen’s eggs.
Incredibly, his autopilot was taken out in the damage.
“I have been flying for 30 years.
“Well, did you see the plane landing? Was it okay? The passengers are alive. It is normal. This is our professional reliability.
“Our locator did not show this weather disaster, this is why it happened. It was hard, but the main thing is that people are alive,” the hero said.
The catastrophe hit some 10 minutes after taking off on a Turkish airline Atlasglobal flight to Erkan in northern Cyprus.
Having climbed to 1,300 metres, the hailstones cracked the cockpit windows – preventing the pilot from seeing his runway approach.
The captain was permitted to try and land at Ataturk airport even though it had been closed due to the atrocious weather.
A full-scale emergency protocol was in place, with fire appliances and ambulances awaiting the plane.
A video shows a woman with red nails gripping a seat because of the plane’s extreme shaking during the landing.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called the captain to congratulate him and awarded him with the Ukrainian Order of Courage.
Aviation experts also praised the two Turkish cabin crew for their bravery.
Mass applause broke out at the airport when he landed the plane.
The pilots of other planes greeted the plane by flashing their lights and came aboard to shake the pilots’ hands.