Now many people don’t know the kind of fluid force we are talking about here. The jet fighter in question here is an A-6, and it was traveling at a speed of 230 knots at the time of the incident, and 1 knot is equal to 1.2 miles per hour. The maximum speed you can probably achieve in a normal car is around 100 knots and try opening your window and experience the fluid force outside the window at that speed, and still you won’t be near to what this poor guy felt on his upper body that day. That was 230 knots which is quite frankly amazing that the guy survived to tell the tale.
The A-6 Intruder was a part of Navy’s aircraft carrier options in the 1990s and was frequently used as an attack aircraft even though it was nearing its operational ceiling. It was not a surprise that the aircraft started experiencing problems in the twilight of its service. On Jul9, 1991, an A-6 intruder took off from the USS Abraham Lincoln in the Persian Gulf for a refueling mission across the tense area soon after the first Gulf War had ended. Lieutenant Mark Baden was the pilot, and Kim Gallagher was the navigator for the mission in the back seat. It was Gallagher’s 26th birthday, and the poor chap didn’t know the kind of unpleasant surprise waiting for him midway through the mission. He and Baden had been friends for some time and regularly took sorties together.
Now halfway through, the pilot makes vital checks to ensure the aircraft is performing smoothly and may not have any problems before landing. He was concerned to find a stuck float in one of the fuel tanks and he tried to unstick it by going through a series of sharp manoeuvres and turns. During one of them, he felt a significant amount of G-force and then a bang and saw to his horror that his pal Gallagher had accidentally ejected and the mechanism didn’t work all too well. The parachute had stuck inside the cockpit and as a result, poor Gallagher was stuck halfway between the canopy and his head was facing the full blasts of air from the surroundings.
Now you have to understand that this was a very delicate situation for the Baden as he couldn’t let Callagher be there for a long time or the sheer force of the wind could snap his neck and kill him. But, he also couldn’t land the thing without consequences as jagged pieces of Plexiglass were hovering just a few inches away from the poor guy’s body that didn’t break away with the rest of the glass canopy. First Baden slowed down the plane to its minimum speed possible and then began to think about it. He had moments to decide what kind of action he was going to take after taking a look at his friend dangling around at six. Gallagher was still “hanging in there” and his eyes and cheeks were bulging out due to the extreme force. I am sure Baden would have been stressed to maximum, but the good thing about fighter pilots is that they are rigorously trained for incidents like these.
So, Baden began his approach to the aircraft carrier’s strip that employed a hook and cable system to stop the aircraft in such a short length. He figured out that he needed to land flatly and as smoothly as possible or else the glass would cut his poor friend into two. With blood pounding in his brain, he made the touchdown and saw immediately rushed to Gallagher’s attention. The tough guy was still alive and the cut glass only had made minor contact with his body. But one thing was sure. He didn’t expect to survive the ordeal and was amazed to see uniformed people hugging him and crowding around him instead of pearly white angels!
So, having a calm and composed mind does save lives in miraculous ways.