PDA

View Full Version : Holy Flying Scottsman!!!!



WholeHawg
11-12-2008, 07:08 AM
http://news.scotsman.com/latestnews/Rescue-at-15000ft-after-pilot.4674305.jp


A PILOT who suddenly went blind while flying solo at 15,000ft managed to land safely after he was guided down by an RAF plane.
Glasgow-born Jim O'Neill, 65, was flying a four-seat Cessna from Prestwick Airport in Ayrshire to Colchester in Essex when he suffered a stroke.

Initially, he thought bright sunshine had temporarily affected his vision. But realising something more serious was happening, he issued a mayday, sparking a dramatic mid-air drama.

An RAF Tucano T1 plane was scrambled from its base at Linton-on-Ouse in north Yorkshire and flew alongside the Cessna, its pilot issuing instructions to Mr O'Neill by radio.

Mr O'Neill who has 18 years' flying experience finally made a successful emergency landing at the eighth attempt.

Speaking from his bed at the Queen's Hospital in Romford, Essex, Mr O'Neill said: "I should not be alive. I owe my life and those of dozens of people I could have crash-landed on to the RAF.

"It was terrifying. Suddenly I couldn't see the dials in front of me. All there was in front of me was a blur. I was helpless at the controls."

It is thought he had a stroke mid-flight and that blood at the back of his head put pressure on his optic nerves, instantly blinding him.

Mr O'Neill's son, Douglas, of Colchester, last night said his father was starting to regain sight in one eye and that doctors hoped he might be released from hospital within a week.

He said he and his mother Eileen, 63, were still struggling to come to terms with his father's "miraculous" rescue.

"Of course, we knew nothing about it until he had landed," he said.

"It's one of those things you might hear about happening in some sort of all-action film but it's hard to believe what they did. They were just tremendous.

"We can't speak highly enough of the RAF and their skill and ability in doing what they did. Incredible.

"But it's very typical of my dad too. It took about 45 minutes from the time the RAF plane came alongside him and he managed to stay cool all that time when he had suddenly gone blind. It's typical of him really.

"He's a very determined man and when he sets his mind to it he will do it."

He said his father wanted to travel to RAF Linton-on-Ouse to thank the crew members and controllers who saved his life.

"He's very keen to say thank you properly," said Mr O'Neill.

"We've been talking about what the best thing to do is and we're thinking at the moment of perhaps organising a dinner up there when he's back on his feet."

Wing Commander Paul Gerrard, 42, yesterday told how he was taking part in an RAF training sortie when he came to Mr O'Neill's aid.

He said: "I was just glad to help a fellow aviator in distress. I was just part of a team. Landing an aircraft literally blind needs someone to be right there to say, 'Left a bit, right a bit, stop, down'. On the crucial final approach, even with radar assistance you need to take over visually. That's when having a fellow pilot there is so important."

Mrs O'Neill, speaking of her husband's ordeal, which happened last Friday, said: "It's a miracle Jim is here today. The RAF are heroes. They were so cool and calm and talked Jim down. Without them, Jim wouldn't be alive. We are a very religious family and I believe there was an angel on his shoulder as he came in to land, helping Jim alongside the RAF crew."

A spokesman from the Civil Aviation Authority said strict health checks were carried out on private pilots and that such fliers over the age of 60 had to have a full examination every 12 months.

Air traffic control officer Terry O'Brien said 12 people were involved in the 45-minute rescue. "My heart was in my mouth, certainly, but at the end of the day we successfully got him down," he added.

Nick Wyndo, chairman of the AWA flying group in Coventry, who is a private pilot the same age as Mr O'Neill, commented: "I haven't heard of anything like this before. It's quite amazing.

"But pilots can suddenly suffer health problems just like everyone else. A lot of conditions are hidden even with the most stringent medical examination.

"When you get a private pilot's licence, it is for life but you are only allowed to fly if your current medical and current flying experience are up to date.

"Therefore I wouldn't say age was a problem. As long as you are 'current' and do sufficient hours, flying gets easier with age."

Mr Wyndo said all private pilots had to undergo a range of medical and flying tests, including "check" flights with an instructor, to practise techniques for forced landings.

Jim Ferguson, aviation expert, said: "But for the professionalism of the RAF, this episode could have ended in tragedy."

WholeHawg
11-12-2008, 07:08 AM
http://news.scotsman.com/latestnews/Rescue-at-15000ft-after-pilot.4674305.jp


A PILOT who suddenly went blind while flying solo at 15,000ft managed to land safely after he was guided down by an RAF plane.
Glasgow-born Jim O'Neill, 65, was flying a four-seat Cessna from Prestwick Airport in Ayrshire to Colchester in Essex when he suffered a stroke.

Initially, he thought bright sunshine had temporarily affected his vision. But realising something more serious was happening, he issued a mayday, sparking a dramatic mid-air drama.

An RAF Tucano T1 plane was scrambled from its base at Linton-on-Ouse in north Yorkshire and flew alongside the Cessna, its pilot issuing instructions to Mr O'Neill by radio.

Mr O'Neill who has 18 years' flying experience finally made a successful emergency landing at the eighth attempt.

Speaking from his bed at the Queen's Hospital in Romford, Essex, Mr O'Neill said: "I should not be alive. I owe my life and those of dozens of people I could have crash-landed on to the RAF.

"It was terrifying. Suddenly I couldn't see the dials in front of me. All there was in front of me was a blur. I was helpless at the controls."

It is thought he had a stroke mid-flight and that blood at the back of his head put pressure on his optic nerves, instantly blinding him.

Mr O'Neill's son, Douglas, of Colchester, last night said his father was starting to regain sight in one eye and that doctors hoped he might be released from hospital within a week.

He said he and his mother Eileen, 63, were still struggling to come to terms with his father's "miraculous" rescue.

"Of course, we knew nothing about it until he had landed," he said.

"It's one of those things you might hear about happening in some sort of all-action film but it's hard to believe what they did. They were just tremendous.

"We can't speak highly enough of the RAF and their skill and ability in doing what they did. Incredible.

"But it's very typical of my dad too. It took about 45 minutes from the time the RAF plane came alongside him and he managed to stay cool all that time when he had suddenly gone blind. It's typical of him really.

"He's a very determined man and when he sets his mind to it he will do it."

He said his father wanted to travel to RAF Linton-on-Ouse to thank the crew members and controllers who saved his life.

"He's very keen to say thank you properly," said Mr O'Neill.

"We've been talking about what the best thing to do is and we're thinking at the moment of perhaps organising a dinner up there when he's back on his feet."

Wing Commander Paul Gerrard, 42, yesterday told how he was taking part in an RAF training sortie when he came to Mr O'Neill's aid.

He said: "I was just glad to help a fellow aviator in distress. I was just part of a team. Landing an aircraft literally blind needs someone to be right there to say, 'Left a bit, right a bit, stop, down'. On the crucial final approach, even with radar assistance you need to take over visually. That's when having a fellow pilot there is so important."

Mrs O'Neill, speaking of her husband's ordeal, which happened last Friday, said: "It's a miracle Jim is here today. The RAF are heroes. They were so cool and calm and talked Jim down. Without them, Jim wouldn't be alive. We are a very religious family and I believe there was an angel on his shoulder as he came in to land, helping Jim alongside the RAF crew."

A spokesman from the Civil Aviation Authority said strict health checks were carried out on private pilots and that such fliers over the age of 60 had to have a full examination every 12 months.

Air traffic control officer Terry O'Brien said 12 people were involved in the 45-minute rescue. "My heart was in my mouth, certainly, but at the end of the day we successfully got him down," he added.

Nick Wyndo, chairman of the AWA flying group in Coventry, who is a private pilot the same age as Mr O'Neill, commented: "I haven't heard of anything like this before. It's quite amazing.

"But pilots can suddenly suffer health problems just like everyone else. A lot of conditions are hidden even with the most stringent medical examination.

"When you get a private pilot's licence, it is for life but you are only allowed to fly if your current medical and current flying experience are up to date.

"Therefore I wouldn't say age was a problem. As long as you are 'current' and do sufficient hours, flying gets easier with age."

Mr Wyndo said all private pilots had to undergo a range of medical and flying tests, including "check" flights with an instructor, to practise techniques for forced landings.

Jim Ferguson, aviation expert, said: "But for the professionalism of the RAF, this episode could have ended in tragedy."