Friday, 31 March 2017

Flying Solo

You'd be surprised how often people get sucked from a plane. No really, it happens a lot. Well quite a lot. I don't know why this topic crossed my mind, but it did, and piqued my interest enough to do some Internet research ... so not extensive, but enough to fill a blog post.

Perhaps the most famous of these events was Aloha Airlines flight 243 from Honolulu from Hilo on April 28, 1988. The 19 year old Boeing 737 was flying at about 24,000 feet when the ceiling above the passengers, just aft of the entrance door, suddenly and explosively ripped off, leaving the passenger section exposed to the skies for about one quarter the length of the airplane.

Aloha Airlines flight 243 ,,,,, After Landing.

The casualty of this disaster was flight attendant Clarabelle Lansing, who was immediately sucked out the hole and disappeared, along with the section of passenger cabin roof. Amazingly, the other 90 passengers and 4 crew members all survived, because all of them except the unlucky Ms Lansing were belted in, which prevented more fatalities, although 65 of them were injured. Also incredibly, the jet was able to descend to make an emergency landing on Maui. 

In another incident of plane failure, the crew were luckier. On June 10th, 1990 on British Airways Flight 5390 the captain was sucked out of the cockpit – and survived. A badly-installed panel of the windscreen on flight 5390 suddenly fell out, causing the plane’s cockpit to decompress and its captain to be pulled halfway out of the aircraft at over 17,000 feet. Both pilots had loosened their harnesses, and Captain Lancaster was forcefully pulled toward the open window by the rush of air and the whole top half of his body was dragged out of the plane, with only his legs remaining inside, caught on the flight controls.

A flight attendant was on the flight deck at the time, and he grabbed hold of Lancaster’s belt, while the stricken captain was flung from side to side by powerful winds and began to lose consciousness in the thin air at that altitude. The flight attendant began to suffer from frostbite and exhaustion, and was relieved by the chief steward and another flight attendant Simon Rogers. Lancaster’s head was now banging against the side of the cockpit, leading the crew to believe he had died but they held on to him in fear that his body might get sucked into the plane’s engine.

British Airways Flight 5390 ..... Minus Cockpit Window

An emergency landing at Southampton Airport took place with Captain Lancaster flapping against the cockpit. Amazingly The Captain Lancaster was discovered to be alive and was rushed to hospital as frightened passengers disembarked. The whole ordeal had lasted 22 minutes. Captain Lancaster survived and recovered after he was treated for fractures to his right arm, left thumb and right wrist, as well as frostbite and shock.  Remarkably, he returned to work within five months.

But while some are lucky, others deservedly are not. In February 2016, a man sucked out of a passenger jet after bomb exploded, was the suicide bomber who had smuggled his device on board in his wheelchair in Somalia. No one else was hurt. Local air investigators investigators have concluded that the suspected terrorist (thought to be part of the Al-Shabaab Islamist group), may probably faked a disability to bypass security checks at Mogadishu airport.

Somali Airbus After Suicide Bomber Sucked Out Of Plane ....

The suspected bomber named by local officials as Abdullahi Abdisalam Borleh, 55, from Somaliland, caught fire before he was sucked from his seat and out of the Airbus A321, after blowing a hole in the fuselage shortly after the plane, filled with more than 70 passengers, took off from the Somali capital. The plane landed safely and no one else was hurt.


  1. I think by "quite a lot" you mean almost never. Quite a lot could be the description of road deaths per year - well over a million!

    I'm amazed by the Honolulu flight; how the plane didn't snap in two after losing its roof, I don't know!
    Future planes will be made of a carbon fibre composite making flights EVEN safer, more comfortable and more fuel efficient!

    1. Three times that I found, was probably 'quite a lot' more than those people expected ... they probably thought never would be too much.


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