This is the incredible story of how a British Airways pilot was sucked out of the cockpit mid-flight and survived – over 30-years ago!
Just 27-minutes into the flight from Birmingham to Malaga, as the plane was travelling 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. Talk about scary.
The force also blew the cockpit door from its hinges, nearly knocking flight attendant Nigel Ogden to the ground. Somehow, Ogden was able to rush back into the cockpit and grab the Captain’s legs as he disappeared out the window.
Ogden told the Sydney Morning Herald: “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 seatbelt 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.
“His shirt had been pulled off his back and his body was bent upwards, doubled over round the top of the aircraft.
“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.”
Ogden was also starting to slip out of the window as he held on to the Captain’s legs. Luckily, another crew member, John Heward ran into the cockpit and grabbed Ogden 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 [1.8 metres] 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.
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 ended up landing safetly at Southampton Airport, where they were met by the emergency services.
Incredibly, the pilot only suffered a few fractures and frostbite, but he survived.
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 mechanic had used the wrong bolts and screws 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 “characterised 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.