About Us Contact Us Privacy Policy
© GOOD Worldwide Inc. All Rights Reserved.

30 years ago, a pilot was sucked out of a cockpit window mid-flight. He lived to tell the tale.

The shocking incident recaptured the internet's attention recently after pictures of a reconstruction went viral on Twitter.

30 years ago, a pilot was sucked out of a cockpit window mid-flight. He lived to tell the tale.
Cover Image Source: A British Airways flight passes the control tower as it takes off from Heathrow Airport on September 13, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

As far as "I almost died" stories are concerned, nothing beats that of the British Airways pilot who was sucked halfway out of his cockpit mid-flight, and amazingly lived to tell the tale. Captain Tim Lancaster was 17,300ft over Oxfordshire when the windscreen of the Malaga-bound plane blew out. He miraculously came out alive from the incident which occurred thirty years ago thanks to a steward holding onto his trouser belt and legs while his co-pilot managed to make an emergency landing. The shocking incident recaptured the internet's attention recently after pictures of a reconstruction — created for a documentary called Air Crash Investigation - Blow Out on the National Geographic Channel in 2005 — went viral on Twitter.


According to Daily Mail, the near-catastrophic incident occurred on June 10, 1990, in a BAC-111 aircraft that was on its way to Malaga after performing a routine take-off from Birmingham. Things quickly went south over Didcot when the left-hand windscreen in the cockpit came loose and flew off. This caused a potentially deadly decompression which resulted in the air leaving the flight deck with such force that the cockpit door was pulled off its hinges and hurled against the throttle controls.


The impact caused the plane to rapidly accelerate as it headed downwards while the captain, Tim Lancaster, was nearly sucked out through the gaping hole in the windscreen. Luckily, his legs caught on the flight controls, and cabin attendant Nigel Ogden — who'd entered the flight deck at that crucial moment to ask if the pilots wanted any refreshments — was able to quickly grab hold of Lancaster. He held onto him with all his might as the first officer, Alastair Atchison, fought to control the aircraft. The crew feared that their captain wouldn't come of the ordeal alive since his head was banging against the fuselage.


"I whipped around 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," Ogden recounted, reports Metro. "I jumped over the control column and grabbed him around his waist to avoid him going out completely. His shirt had been pulled off his back and his body was bent upwards, doubled over around the top of the aircraft. Fortunately, he managed to free Lancaster's legs from the controls with the help of another flight attendant, Simon Rogers."


Atchison made an emergency landing at Southampton, with no passenger injuries. Having miraculously survived the 22-minute ordeal, Lancaster was treated in hospital for a broken arm, frostbite, and severe bruising while Ogden suffered a dislocated shoulder and frostbite. "Most terrifyingly, his eyes were wide open. I’ll never forget that sight as long as I live," said Ogden. "God knows how, but while all this was going on, Alastair managed to get the plane under control. I let John take over in the cabin and I ran back to look after the passengers, who had all heard the bang, my poor colleague Sue Prince had been looking after the plane on her own, bless her."



"I screamed: 'Brace! Brace!' Everyone knew the seriousness of the situation then," he added. "The pressure on Alastair must have been tremendous – everybody’s life was in his hands. But he brought that plane down perfectly." After the crazy story went viral on social media last week, a Twitter user by the name of Andrew Roberts, who claimed to have worked with Lancaster years after this incident, revealed that the pilot used to regale new crew members with this tale. "He was very nonchalant about it as if it were just an everyday occurrence," wrote Roberts. "He would say that he couldn't remember much apart from being very cold and the strange realization of being outside of the airplane. He was unconscious most of the time (which is probably a good thing)."



More Stories on Scoop