BLINDED PILOT BEATS THE STORM
The Airbus A320 with 127 passengers on board was just 10 minutes into its flight from Istanbul to Cyprus when it encountered a violent freak storm. Hailstones the size of golf balls lashed the plane, destroying its nose, smashing its windshield and disabling its autopilot.
Despite losing vision from the cockpit, Ukrainian captain Alexander Akopov didn’t panic. The veteran pilot asked permission from Istanbul’s Ataturk airport to return and attempt a ‘blind’ landing.
As the plane approached the runway, passengers screamed in fear for their lives. But Captain Akopov used his experience, relying on instrument readings and guidance from the control tower, and brought the plane home safely—to applause from waiting emergency services.
“The passengers are alive. It is normal. This is our professional reliability,” the modest hero said afterwards. He has since been awarded Ukraine’s Order for Courage.