Pilot lands plane ‘blind’ after hail storm breaks plane’s windows

This is the moment a pilot landed a passenger plane ‘blind’ after giant hailstones damaged the cockpit’s windows.

Captain Alexander Akopov was praised after touching down safely at Ataturk Airport, in Istanbul, Turkey.

The storm had also disabled the Airbus A320’s autopilot.

Dramatic footage showed the Atlasglobal aircraft, which had 127 passengers on board, struggling to maintain its balance as to came into land.

Trouble had started ten minutes into the flight to Erkan, in Northern Cyprus, after the plane was hit by hailstones that cracked the cockpit windows, damaged the exterior and disabled the auto-pilot.

Capt Akopov, from Ukraine, said he celebrated with another crew member like it was his second birthday when he landed.

‘I have been flying for 30 years,’ he said.

‘It was hard, but the main thing is that people are alive.

‘Well, did you see the plane landing? Was it okay? The passengers are alive. It is normal. This is our professional reliability.’

Separate video from the inside of the plane showed passengers crying and screaming as the aircraft rocked from side to side.

Everyone was relieved when it landed safely, including those watching at Ataturk airport who applauded.

The airport had been closed because of the weather but the pilot was still allowed to land because of the emergency.

Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko congratulated Captain Akopov personally after calling him following the emergency landing.

He also awarded him the Ukrainian Order of Courage.

The two members of cabin crew were also praised for their bravery.


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