The internet has been floored by the story of a cabin crew member who saved a British Airways pilot at 23,000ft by grabbing his legs.
Captain Tim Lancaster, who was 42 at the time, almost lost his life in 1990 during a flight from Birmingham to Malaga when two of the plane’s cockpit windows suddenly smashed as it made its way over Oxfordshire.
However, thanks to the bravery of a crew member, the disaster that could have unfolded because of this incredibly rare accident was narrowly avoided.
The unbelievable story has recently resurfaced on Twitter, where images have been posted of a re-enactment.
They were captioned: “In 1990, the window of a plane fell off, and one of the pilots got sucked out, so they just held onto his legs while the plane landed.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the re-enactment images went far from unnoticed, and at the time of writing, the tweet has been liked 160K times since it was posted on 13 November.
As depicted in the now-viral images, the captain was removed from his seat and nearly taken to his death.
However, he was saved when flight attendant Nigel Ogden, who had just avoided his own fate when the cockpit door was blown off, grabbed into his legs.
The pressure on the flight attendant was immense as he battled the wind to save the pilot, but he luckily had a backup in the form of John Heward, a cabin crew member, who grabbed into the pilot’s belt.
Another unidentified flight attendant then managed to give the men the support they needed to survive by strapping themselves into the pilot’s chair and holding on.
As this was happening, the plane’s co-pilot, Alistair Atchinson, shouted ‘mayday’ to alert people on the ground to the terrifying situation in the sky.
Ogden later 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 650 kmh through some of the most congested skies in the world.”
He explained that despite fearing the worst, he managed to hold onto the pilot through the window until the plane landed.
Ogden remembered: “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 six feet long. Most terrifyingly, his eyes were wide open. I’ll never forget that sight as long as I live.”
Against the odds, the plane landed successfully at Southampton Airport, where the pilot quickly received the medical attention he needed.
Lancaster went on to recover entirely from what really sounds like one of the aviation industry’s most miraculous stories.
It was originally recreated for a 2005 National Geographic documentary Air Crash Investigation – Blow Out, but clearly, this is one tale that will not be forgotten any time soon.