Heroic pilots fought for five hours to prevent an “out of control” plane from crashing in Siberia, saving nearly 200 people, including 25 children, from certain death.
The terrifying incident happened when the S7 Airline’s Airbus A321 plunged toward the ground shortly after taking off from Magdan airport in eastern Russia.
Just five minutes after takeoff, the plane’s autopilot failed, electronics did not work, and the fuselage was covered with ice.
Despite performing many circuits in the air and making an emergency call, the Daily Mail reported that the pilots could not dump enough fuel to land at the departure airport.
Instead of flying to the final destination Novosibirsk, the pilots were obliged to navigate the jet over Siberia.
While the passengers panicked, “screamed and prayed,” the pilots had to continue flying over the mountains to the next closest airport—Yakutsk, the world’s coldest city.
The plane steadied after nearly an hour, but it took the pilots three hours to reach 32,000 feet.
However, the crew did not land in Yakutsk, which was too cold at minus 30 degrees.
They flew to Irkutsk, where the temperature was minus 1 degrees and made a safe emergency landing to the passengers’ delight.
The plane “got into a zone of severe icing, which led to the disconnection of the autopilot,” S7 Airlines, a primary Russian carrier that is part of the “Oneworld” alliance with British Airways, stated.
The officials suspected the deodorant spray used in Magadan was defective after inspecting the Airbus.
“Five minutes after takeoff, the plane began to lose altitude sharply.” A passenger named Stanislav Kuimov said according to the New York Post. “We were thrown down and up.”
“The rattle of the wings, the crackle of the fuselage, the noise of the wind, the roar of engines, bags falling from the luggage racks—horror.” Kuimov added.
“A strong rattling began, the plane rolled from side to side.” Another passenger said, adding, “Then the nose went down sharply, and we plunged at speed,” then “people screamed and began to pray, no one understood anything.”
Drinks and food were offered to the terrified passengers and later flights on other planes.
Magadan Mayor Yury Grishan complimented the crew’s “high professionalism, courage, and calm” during the incident.
The Russian Transport Investigative Committee and the Baikal-Angarsk Transport Prosecutor’s Office are also looking into the terrifying trip.