PICS | Pilots keep calm as storm rips nose apart, sees passengers 'drop like a stone'

2019-11-26 09:11
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The skill of these ProFlight pilots have saved the day after hail seriously damaged the nose of their plane, causing passengers to drop like a stone. 

The incident happened during a recent flight between Livingstone and Lusaka, with one passenger sharing the following images to Instagram, showing exactly how the storm had caused serious damage just as the plane was about to descend for landing. 

READ: Flying is safer than ever - but passengers should hold on for more turbulence in future

And if there's one thing pilots and passenger alike are fully aware of it is the impact of bad weather. From flight delays, to turbulence to this - as the Zambian ProFlight Zambia plane took quite a beating.

"Our plane, in a wild thunderstorm, was struck by lightning just after we started our descent. We dropped like a stone, our ears went berserk, and it took a few minutes before we were beyond the hail and wind.

"I have to really take my hat off to the pilots. They not only did their best to take us out of the storm as quickly as possible, but they landed with great calm and professionalism. It was only after we disembarked that we saw the cockpit’s smashed windscreen, the torn-up nose, and the ripped tail wing." 

What happens when hail hits a plane?

According to AviationGeek, "Hail is more or less invisible until you run into it."

Also hail doesn’t just come out of the bottom of clouds but can be ejected from the top of some larger storms. 

"When hail is caught in an updraft, it can be thrown out the top of the storm for dozens of miles. So even if an airplane is cruising at 34 000 ft and possibly clear of a storm, it can still be affected."

When you consider that an airplane often travels at over 800km/h - hitting a ball of ice at that speed can certainly do some damage.  While windows can be cracked, or "smashed" as in this case, "planes are engineered to take a lot more abuse than some hail can create".

So in this instance, thank goodness for sound design engineering that works and well-trained pilots. 

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