Hero Lands Plane After Co-Pilot Is 'Sucked Halfway Out' Cockpit Windshield Mid-Flight

Every time you board a plane, you quietly hope you'll be spared unpleasant mid-flight surprises like a poop-smearing jerk or freakishly flatulent fellow passenger. Above all else, though, you hope your pilot knows what the hell they're doing, and won't become impaired while flying. Unfortunately, the latter nightmare scenario unfolded on a recent flight, when a cockpit windshield fell off at 32,000 feet and sucked the pilot halfway out of the aircraft

Incredibly, the flight's captain managed to safely bring the plane -- and all 128 passengers onboard -- in for an emergency landing, using some hero-level focus.

During a Sichuan Airlines flight from Chongqing, China to Lhasa, Tibet on Monday, one of the cockpit windshields cracked and fell off as the plane was cruising at 500 miles per hour, six miles high in the sky. The force of the burst sucked one of the co-pilots halfway out of the plane, and rendered much of the equipment inside useless. Fortunately, the guy survived thanks to his seatbelt, which prevented him from fully ejecting, but it still made for a harrowing scene. Truly frightening photos of the damaged cockpit have been making the rounds on social media.

"The windshield burst suddenly and a loud noise was heard, and when I looked to the side, I saw that the co-pilot was already halfway out of the window. Luckily his seatbelt was tied," Captain Liu Chuanjian told the Chengdu Economic Daily. "Everything in the cockpit was floating in the air. I couldn't hear the radio. The plane was shaking so hard I could not read the gauges."

Passengers were eating breakfast when suddenly the plane plunged 6,000 feet and oxygen masks dropped. Liu was able to safely land the plane about 20 minutes later, though that must have felt like an eternity for everyone in the cabin, since no one knew what was going on.

"We didn't know what was going on and we panicked," one passenger toldChina News Service. "The oxygen masks dropped... We experienced a few seconds of free-fall before it stabilized again."

Miraculously, the pilot who was partially sucked out suffered only minor injuries to his wrist and face. One member of the cabin crew also suffered a minor injury to their wrist, but most passengers were left unscathed, at least physically. Naturally, Liu is being hailed as a hero for bringing the plane down safely under such insane circumstances. 

The cause of the freak accident is still being investigated, but it's especially unnerving in light of the tragic incident on a Southwest Airlines flight earlier this month, when a passenger was killed after an engine exploded and caused a window to break mid-flight. However, they both could have been much worse if it weren't for a couple pilots with nerves of steel.

h/tBBC News

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Joe McGauley is a senior writer for Thrillist. Follow him @jwmcgauley.