When planes have to land on water in an emergency, it’s an extremely rare and dangerous situation. It takes a skilled pilot and just the right conditions. But what’s worse is when the aircraft just falls apart after ditching!
It was August 21, 1963 when the then-Soviet airline Aeroflot was about to perform its regular flight from Tallinn, Estonia to Moscow. There were 45 passengers and 7 crewmembers on board the aircraft. What happened to them went down in history …
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Something went wrong right from the start 0:33
Getting rid of the extra fuel 2:29
Engine one goes out 3:11
The only chance of survival 4:33
The plane went under water 5:59
How did they manage to save everyone? 7:33
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-The aircraft’s nose gear wouldn’t retract. Besides that, during the take-off, one ball screw got lost and was later found on the runway.
-The plane had to reduce the amount of fuel it was carrying – that would make the aircraft lighter and minimize the risk of a fire during the crash landing. So at approximately 11 AM, the plane began to circle the city at an altitude of 1,480 feet, with each circle taking about 15 minutes to complete.
-Engine 1 suddenly went out because of fuel starvation! Apparently, the pilots had burned more fuel than they’d initially planned.
-The only chance of survival was to ditch in the Neva River. The captain passed control over to the co-pilot because Chechenev had served in naval aviation and had some experience in landing on water. Miraculously, all the passengers and crewmembers not only stayed alive but they were completely unharmed!
-The plane’s ripped fuselage started to gulp down the river water. The Neva is 1,300 feet wide and more than 40 feet deep in that particular spot, so there was a very real risk that the aircraft would sink, bringing all the people down with it. Luckily, there was a steam tugboat moving on the river not far from the place of the emergency landing.
-Experts are sure that there were several lucky factors that helped them. There were no waves on the Neva that day. Secondly, Chechenev’s water-landing experience played a huge role in the lucky outcome. Besides, it took the cockpit crew mere seconds to come to the only correct decision to ditch the plane in the river. And finally, without the tugboat that happened to be passing by and came to the rescue, the plane wouldn’t have got to the shore so fast.
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