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How Was This Pilot Sucked Out of a Plane Window?

By Orgesta Tolaj


21 November 2023

pilot sucked out of plane window

© Reconstruction / Discovery

The internet has recently been awe-struck by an extraordinary tale of courage and quick thinking at a whopping 23,000 feet. But, what is the story that has left everyone star-struck? The story unfolds in 1990 when Captain Tim Lancaster who was then 42 years old. He was a pilot who faced a life-threatening situation during a British Airways flight from Birmingham to Malaga. But, what makes this story so nerve-wracking is that two cockpit windows shattered over Oxfordshire. And, get this! The pilot was sucked out of the window of the plane!

Who Is the Pilot That Was Sucked Out of a Window?

Social media users were astonished by the remarkable story of Captain Tim Lancaster. He was a British Airways pilot who was sucked out of the cockpit mid-flight in 1990 but miraculously survived. A Twitter user shared photos from a reenactment. He explained that when the plane’s window fell off, fellow crew members held onto Lancaster’s legs until the plane safely landed. The incident left many in awe of Lancaster’s incredible ordeal.

© Reconstruction / Discovery

The pilot involved in the incident was Tim Lancaster, flying from Birmingham, England, to Malaga, Spain, in June 1990. Two of the plane’s cockpit windows shattered over Oxfordshire. This caused Lancaster to be thrown out of his seat and sucked out of the window. The force also blew the cockpit door off its hinges and nearly knocked down flight attendant Nigel Ogden.

How Was the Pilot Sucked Out of Plane Window?

Fortunately, Nigel Ogden, a flight attendant, acted swiftly to prevent further disaster when Captain Tim Lancaster was sucked out of the cockpit window. Ogden managed to grab Lancaster’s legs just as he was disappearing from the aircraft. However, Ogden himself began slipping out of the opening. In a critical moment, another cabin crew member, John Heward, rushed into the cockpit and secured Ogden by grabbing him by the belt. To stabilize the situation further, a third crew member strapped himself into one of the pilot’s chairs. They managed to form a human chain to prevent anyone else from being pulled out.

Meanwhile, Captain Lancaster found himself exposed to the elements outside the plane. He was clinging to the aircraft at an altitude of 23,000 feet. Inside the cockpit, co-pilot Alistair Atchinson took immediate control of the aircraft. He urgently broadcasted a distress call by repeatedly shouting ‘Mayday! Mayday!’ into the radio. The harrowing event showcased the cabin crew’s remarkable coordination and quick thinking in the face of an unprecedented and life-threatening situation.

How the Incident Was Described

Nigel Ogden, a flight attendant, described the terrifying moment when he witnessed Captain Tim Lancaster being sucked out of the cockpit. Ogden recounted seeing the front windscreen gone, with only Lancaster’s legs visible as he was pulled out of his seatbelt. Reacting quickly, Ogden jumped over the control column, grabbing Lancaster around the waist to prevent him from being completely ejected.

Lancaster’s body was bent upwards, his shirt torn off, and his legs jammed forward, disconnecting the autopilot. The flight door rested on the controls, causing the plane to rapidly descend at almost 650 km/h through heavily congested skies. Ogden feared losing Lancaster, who ended up bent in a U-shape around the windows, with blood coming from his nose and the side of his head. Ogden vividly recalled the haunting image of Lancaster’s wide-open eyes and flailing arms during the intense and life-threatening situation.

Did the Pilot Who Was Sucked Out of the Plane Survive?

Remarkably, co-pilot Alistair Atchinson successfully regained control of the plane, and it ultimately landed safely at Southampton Airport, where emergency services awaited the crew. Astonishingly, Captain Tim Lancaster survived the harrowing ordeal, enduring multiple fractures and frostbite.

The incredible story, previously featured in a documentary titled “Air Crash Investigation – Blow Out,” which recreated the events, gained renewed attention in the viral world. Screenshots from the reenactment circulated widely, amassing over 170,000 likes and 38,000 retweets, once again bringing fame to Lancaster and his crew.

What would you have done in this situation? Do you think you could have made it out unharmed as well?

You might also want to read: This Airline Is for 18+ Only! No “Annoying” Children Allowed

Orgesta Tolaj

Your favorite introvert who is buzzing around the Hive like a busy bee!