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The Amazing Story Of The Pilot Who Was Sucked Out Of Plane At 23,000ft And Survived

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The Amazing Story Of The Pilot Who Was Sucked Out Of Plane At 23,000ft And Survived

A plane's window breaking and the pilot being sucked out while a group of flight attendants desperately hold onto his legs to stop him from plummeting 23,000ft might sound like the plot of a disaster movie, but it actually happened back in 1990.

Even more incredibly, the British Airways pilot involved - a Captain Tim Lancaster - survived the ordeal, although he sustained several fractures and frostbite after being exposed to the elements while hanging out the window. And, somewhat impressively, he even continued to work as a pilot.

The shocking incident unfolded more than three decades ago back in June 1990, with Lancaster piloting a commercial flight from Birmingham, England to Malaga in Spain.

What started off as a fairly routine day for the flight's crew, quickly turned to disaster around half an hour into the flight when two of the plane's six cockpit windows shattered while travelling over Oxfordshire.

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Tim Lancaster with wife Margaret. Credit: Mike Hollist/Daily Mail/Shutterstock
Tim Lancaster with wife Margaret. Credit: Mike Hollist/Daily Mail/Shutterstock

Lancaster ended up being thrown out of his seat and sucked out of the window, while the force also blew the cockpit door from its hinges and nearly knocked flight attendant Nigel Ogden to the ground.

Thankfully, Ogden was able to rush into the cockpit to grab Lancaster's legs, just as he disappeared out of the window.

Ogden started slipping out of the opening as well, but a second cabin crew member called John Heward rushed into the cockpit and grabbed him by the belt, before another flight attendant strapped himself into the a pilot's chair and helped hold the chain of people down.

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Credit: Reconstruction/Discovery
Credit: Reconstruction/Discovery

Meanwhile, Lancaster was exposed to the elements on the outside of the plane, holding on for dear life at 23,000ft - while co-pilot Alistair Atchinson took over the controls, shouting 'Mayday! Mayday!' into the radio.

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.

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

The cockpit of the British Airways Bac 1-11 with two windows missing. Credit: Murray Sanders/Daily Mail/Shutterstock
The cockpit of the British Airways Bac 1-11 with two windows missing. Credit: Murray Sanders/Daily Mail/Shutterstock

"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 continued: "I thought I was going to lose him, but he ended up bent in a U-shape around the windows.

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"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."

Credit: Reconstruction/Discovery
Credit: Reconstruction/Discovery

Amazingly, co-pilot Atchinson managed to get the plane under control, and the aircraft eventually landed at Southampton Airport, where crew were met by the emergency services.

Even more incredibly, Lancaster managed to survive the ordeal, suffering several fractures and frostbite.

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The shocking story was the subject of a documentary called Air Crash Investigation - Blow Out, which featured a recreation of what happened and aired on National Geographic in 2005.

Featured Image Credit: Discovery

Topics: Interesting, UK

Claire Reid
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