Statistically speaking, flying is safer than driving.
Still, the thought of trouble in the sky is significantly more terrifying than travelling on the ground.
Over the years there have been a few cases of crash landings, where incredible pilots managed to take a life-threatening situation and diffuse it, saving hundreds of lives.
Here’s The Telegraph with five of the most heroic pilots of all time.
1. Chesley Sullenberger III
January 15, 2009:
This is one of the most well-known emergency landings of recent times. Sullenberger, also known as ‘Sully’, was at the helm of US Airways Flight 1549 when a flock of geese disabled both the aircraft’s engines just 2 818 feet above the ground.
Sully managed to land the plane safely in the Hudson River, saving the lives of all 155 passengers on board.
The Miracle on the Hudson was hailed as “the most successful ditching in aviation history” by the NTSB. Though incredibly rare, there have been a few other instances where commercial airliners have been forced to make a landing on water.
Yeah, they made a movie about it, starring Tom Hanks.
When it comes to landing aircraft in rivers, a helicopter was captured on video landing in New York’s East River last year.
2. John Coward and Peter Burkill
January 17, 2008:
Coward and Burkill were manning BA Flight 38, using a Boeing 777-200ER, when its engines suddenly failed to respond to its pilots’ demand for extra thrust.
A build-up of ice crystals had caused a restriction in the flow of fuel.
The loss of power caused the plane’s speed to drop alarmingly. “We were about to stall and fall out of the sky,” said Captain Peter Burkill in an interview two years later. The only way to go faster, and avoiding stalling, was to take a steeper approach. It worked, but meant the aircraft looked certain to miss the runway.
Thanks to the expert flying skills of both pilots, the plane was brought in to land but continued to move along the ground at an intense speed, breaking apart as it went. Incredibly, by the time it came to a halt beside the threshold markings at the start of the runway, only one passenger had suffered a serious injury.
Coward by name, not by nature.
3. Eric Moody
June 24, 1982:
British Airways Flight 9 from Heathrow to Auckland was passing over Jakarta when it ran into volcanic ash from the eruption of Mount Galunggung, resulting in the failure of all four of its engines.
The captain, Eric Moody, tried to reassure passengers with the following statement: “Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. We have a small problem. All four engines have stopped. We are doing our damnedest to get them going again. I trust you are not in too much distress.”
Luckily, as Moody did the calculations for a ditch landing in the ocean, the engines started up and he was able to land the plane safely in Jakarta.
4. Alastair Atchison
June 10, 1990:
Disaster struck when a badly fitted windscreen panel on British Airways Flight 5390 failed halfway through a flight to Malaga. The captain, Tim Lancaster, was sucked outside of the aircraft where his head and torso were battered by 300 mile per hour winds – while his legs remained inside, with flight attendants gripping him tightly.
With insufficient oxygen masks for those on board, co-pilot Alastair Atchison, who was also helping hold Lancaster inside the aircraft, made a rapid emergency descent and searched for the nearest airport. However, due to the sound of rushing air, he could not hear air traffic control.
He eventually landed safely in Southampton where his captain was treated for frostbite, shock and a broken arm.
5. Bryce McCormick
Captain Bryce McCormick was at the helm of American Airlines Flight 96 from LA to New York when the rear cargo door broke off soon after a stopover in Detroit.
The subsequent explosive decompression saw part of the floor at the rear of the cabin give way, severing a control cable and disabling one of the engines. Captain Bryce McCormick, who initially believed the plane had suffered a mid-air collision, declared an emergency, while flight attendants took oxygen to passengers (masks did not deploy because the plane was below the 14,000ft limit).
McCormick was forced to land dangerously fast but managed to do so safely, touching down in Detroit.
Some pretty heroic tales to be swapped over a few toots for those pilots above.
You can read the Telegraph’s full list of heroic pilots here.
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