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31st Jul 2017

WATCH: Heroic pilot lands damaged plane ‘blind’ following hail storm

Incredible footage

Simon Lloyd

Dramatic footage has shown the moment a pilot managed to land a damaged aircraft carrying 127 tourists following a hail storm over Turkey.

Istanbul was pelted by hailstones the ‘size of golfballs’ – the latest extreme weather conditions to have hit the country in recent weeks.

The storm caused damage to the nose and windscreen of the Airbus A320, complicating its emergency landing at Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport. It also disabled the plane’s autopilot function.

The Atlasglobal aircraft sustained the damage just ten minutes after taking off from Atatürk on its journey to Cyprus. Despite the extreme weather conditions forcing the closure of the airport, the plane was permitted to make its landing.

Although the pilot, Captain Alexander Akopov, and his crew in the cockpit were left virtually unsighted due to the damaged windscreen, they were able to land safely.

Speaking afterwards, Akopov attempted to play down the incident: “This is our professional reliability. Our locator did not show this weather disaster, this is why it happened,” he explained.

“It was hard, but the main thing is that people are alive.”

Footage taken by those on board shows passengers celebrating seconds after the plane’s landing. Several pilots of other aircraft left grounded by the plane are said to have come aboard to congratulate Akopov.