On January 15, 2009, US Airways Flight 1549 took off from LaGuardia Airport in New York City. Three minutes into the flight, at an altitude of about 2,800 feet, the jet slammed into a flock of birds, immediately disabling both engines. Captain Chelsey “Sully” Sullenberger and First Officer Jeff Skiles, make a determination quickly that they will not be able to make it back to any airport and make the fateful decision to ditch the flight in the Hudson River!
The plane landed safely. All crew and passengers are disembarked and rescued from the plane without loss of life and Sully was deemed a hero. And although an investigation into the decisions made by the flight crew was long and dramatic, it ended with a complete vindication of the captain. As it turned out, both computer simulations, one to Teterboro Airport in New Jersey (the closest) and one to LaGuardia in NYC, demonstrated a crash of the plane before reaching the runway.
Another similar situation has just occurred as well. An AtlasGlobal flight carrying 127 people on board, including the flight crew, was bound for Erkan in northern Cyprus. As it cruised at 1,300 meters (4,265 feet) a serious golfball-sized hailstorm pummeled the aircraft, completely shattering both sides of the windshield. Despite flying blind, the captain Akopov managed to touch down the airplane without a single casualty!
Astounding video footage has been released showing a pilot landing a plane after golf ball sized hail shattered the aircraft’s windscreen and “severely damaged” the jet. Captain Alexander Akopov was flying “blind” during the incident but managed to safely land the plane and bring all 121 passengers and six crew members to the ground.
During the incident, passengers can be heard praying and crying as the seriously damaged aircraft was being steered towards the ground.
Footage of the landing shows the aircraft bouncing on the runway as the pilot was forced to make a speedy landing to get everyone back to earth safely.
Images from inside the cockpit show the significance of the damage to the windscreen, with cracks rendering visibility down to zero. The autopilot feature was also disabled due to the damage to the aircraft.
The violent storm hit the city of Istanbul quickly. Though it only lasted 20 minutes, flash floods happened throughout the area, and traffic was brought to a standstill. At least 16 other aircraft were rerouted away from Ataturk Airport due to the hazardous conditions.
Akopov was unaware of the storm when he approached the airport. He said, “Our locator did not show this weather disaster, this is why it happened. It was hard, but the main thing is that people are alive.”
Akopov has been awarded the Ukrainian “Order for Courage” for skillfully flying the aircraft through the rain and hail, as well as high winds. The storm damaged the nose of the jet as well as the windscreen.
Speaking about the incident, Akopov said he and the crew celebrated the landing as though it was a “second birthday.”
These are stories that warm the heart and make you joyful at the bravery exhibited by men and women who can operate under some of the harshest and stressful conditions and still have the wherewithal to make the important decisions that save lives.
The Ukranian Order for Courage is well deserved and it would be so cool to have someone arrange for Akopov to meet with Sullenberger to speak and get to know each other. Like presidents, it is an exclusive club to be a part of and not many people can say that they saved the lives of hundreds.