In 1990, a wrongfully installed windshield on BA flight 5390 fell out, causing the plane’s cockpit to decompress and its captain to be pulled halfway out of the aircraft at an altitude of over 17,000 feet. The crew held him until they landed. He survived (picture on left is reenactment)
It was 27 minutes into the flight from Birmingham to Malaga, Spain, somewhere over the English Midlands two of the cockpit windows smashed, depressurizing the cabin. Captain Tim Lancaster who was at the controls was instantly sucked out of the cockpit.
Remarkably one quick thinking flight attendant, Nigel Ogden, was able to grab his captain’s ankles, before he disappeared out the window.
“I jumped over the control column and grabbed him round his waist to avoid him going out completely.
“His shirt had been pulled off his back and his body was bent upwards, doubled over round the top of the aircraft.
“His legs were jammed forward, disconnecting the autopilot, and the flight door was resting on the controls, sending the plane hurtling down at nearly 650 kilometres per hour through some of the most congested skies in the world.”
Captain Tim spent 20 minutes like this on the outside of the cockpit, as the plane radioed in an emergency landing to Southampton Airport, their closest landing strip to divert to.
More remarkable still apart from several broken bones and severe frostbite, the captain had survived almost half an hour on the outside of the plane, held only by his legs.
Captain Tim Lancaster was not deterred. He returned to flying the same plane model five months later. He continued to fly with BA until his retirement in 2003 after which he joined the budget carrier EasyJet for the next five years. The rest of his career was spent flying on the inside of plane cabins.