How British Airways pilot was sucked out of cockpit at 23,000ft

How BA pilot was sucked out of the cockpit at 23,000ft and flight attendant caught him

The incredible tale of how a British Airways pilot was sucked out of the cockpit mid-flight and survived has resurfaced 30 years on.

Some 27 minutes into the flight from Birmingham to Malaga, as the plane was traveling over Oxfordshire, two of the six cockpit windows shattered. Captain Tim Lancaster was ripped from his seat and sucked out of the window at 23,000ft.

The force also blew the cockpit door from its hinges, nearly knocking flight attendant Nigel Ogden to the ground.

A British Airways pilot survived after being sucked out of a cockpit mid-flight in the 1990s
A British Airways pilot survived after being sucked out of a cockpit mid-flight in the 1990s

Nigel Ogden rushed into the cockpit and managed to grab the British Airways pilot’s legs as he disappeared out of the window.

Mr. Ogden told the Sydney Morning Herald: I whipped around and saw the front windscreen had disappeared and Tim, the British Airways pilot, was going out through it, he had been sucked out of his seatbelt and all I could see were his legs.

I jumped over the control column and grabbed him around his waist to avoid him going out completely.

His shirt had been pulled off his back and his body was bent upwards, doubled over around the top of the aircraft.

A reconstruction showed the British Airways pilot who was thrown against the roof of the cockpit
A reconstruction showed the pilot who was thrown against the roof of the cockpit

His legs were jammed forward, disconnecting the autopilot, and the flight door was resting on the controls, sending the plane hurtling down at nearly 650kmh through some of the most congested skies in the world.

He was gradually slipping out of the window as he held onto the pilot, but thankfully a second cabin crew member called John Heward came running into the cockpit and grabbed him by the belt.

He added: I was still holding Tim, but my arms were getting weaker, and then he slipped. I thought I was going to lose him, but he ended up bent in a U-shape around the windows.

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 6 feet long. Most terrifyingly, his eyes were wide open. I’ll never forget that sight as long as I live.

While the co-pilot Alistair Atchinson took over the controls, a second flight attendant called Simon scrapped himself into the third pilot’s chair and helped to hold on to the chain of men.

Mr. Ogden told the Sunday Times: All I can remember is looking at Alastair Atchinson, the co-pilot, struggling to get the plane under control and shouting Mayday! Mayday! into the radio.

God knows how, but while all this was going on, Alastair managed to get the plane under control.

I let John take over in the cabin and I ran back to look after the passengers, who had all heard the bang, my poor colleague Sue Prince had been looking after the plane on her own, bless her.

I screamed: Brace! Brace! Everyone knew the seriousness of the situation then.

The pressure on Alastair must have been tremendous everybody’s life was in his hands. But he brought that plane down perfectly.

The plane landed at Southampton Airport, where they were met by emergency services. Incredibly, the British Airways pilot suffered several fractures and frostbite, but he survived.

Mr. Ogden later left British Airways and went to work for the Salvation Army, but Captain Lancaster flew again.

According to a report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch after the incident, a fitter had used the wrong bolts to secure the windscreen.

The report said that the windscreen-fitting process, which happened 27 hours before the plane took off in June 1990, was characterized by a series of poor work practices, poor judgments, and perceptual errors.

The whole incident was recreated for a documentary called Air Crash Investigation, Blow Out, which was aired on the National Geographic Channel in 2005, and stills from the show recently went viral on social media, 30 years after the accident happened.

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