Published on : Monday, July 31, 2017
A Ukrainian pilot is being hailed as a hero – for safely landing a packed jet after its windshield was smashed by a golf ball-sized hail last week.
Capt. Alexander Akopov’s white-knuckle ride began 10 minutes after takeoff Thursday as the AtlasGlobal-operated Airbus A320 departed Istanbul, Turkey, and headed to Erkan, Cyprus, media reported Monday.
After ascending to just over 4,000 feet, the plane, which was carrying 127 passengers, began getting battered by the giant hail balls, shattering the windshield.
Akopov got permission from Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport — which was closed due to the storm — to land, despite airport employees telling him, “It won’t be able to land, it won’t land.”
“I have been flying for 30 years. Well, did you see the plane landing? Was it OK? The passengers are alive. It is normal. This is our professional reliability,” Akopov told reporters after landing. “Our locator did not show this weather disaster, this is why it happened. It was hard, but the main thing is that people are alive.”
Akopov was awarded Ukraine’s Order for Courage award last week for his act of heroism. The freak 20-minute storm left at least 10 people injured in Turkey.
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