British Airways pilot sucked out of plane window as cabin crew held onto him by the ankles | UK | News

A flight attendant who held on to his captain’s legs as he was sucked out of a broken window has spoken of his terrifying ordeal.

British Airways pilot Tim Lancaster was sucked from his cabin after its glass windowpanes shattered, with cabin crew member Nigel Ogden only able to hold on to him by his ankles until the plane safely landed.

The incident took place on June 20, 1990, due to the wrong bolts being used to fit the windscreen of the plane, which was 13 minutes into its flight from Birmingham to Malaga, at 17,300ft, when the windows shattered.

Mr Ogden was in the cockpit at the time the window burst and his quick thinking saw him able to grasp Mr Lancaster’s legs before he was totally flung from the plane.

In an interview with Australian newspaper, the Sydney Morning Herald, Mr Ogden revealed Mr Lancaster’s body was being “bent upwards” and “doubled over round the top of the aircraft” as he was being sucked “in a U-shape around the windows”.

Mr Ogden said: “There was an enormous explosion. 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 seat belt 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.”

The force weakened Mr Ogden’s arms and he started to get frostbite. Believing he was going to lose his grip on Mr Lancaster, a second flight attendant, John Heward, arrived in the cockpit and managed to grab the captain’s belt.

He added: “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.”

Co-pilot Alistair Atchison had taken control of the plane and instructed his colleagues to keep hold of Mr Lancaster.

Had they lost him through the window, the captain would have died and his body would have also caused serious damage to the plane, potentially leading to further issues for those aboard.

Mr Atchison first conducted an emergency descent and managed to guide the plane to an altitude where the crew and passengers were able to breathe.

The first officer then prepared to make an emergency landing, with his colleagues still holding on to the captain out of the window.

The plane safely landed at Southampton Airport, with Mr Lancaster being taken to hospital. He survived the ordeal, sustaining a number of fractures and bruising, alongside frostbite, while all passengers on the flight were unharmed.

The full crew returned to work within weeks of the incident, with Mr Lancaster flying just five months later. He stayed with BA until 2003 when he was awarded the Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Service in the Air.

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