Russia is discovering some new heros thanks to YouTube, and the aviation high command has red faces.
The sky over one of Moscow’s smaller airports, Chkalovsky, became a place to avoid as pilots struggled to control a Tupolev 154 whose autopilot and control surfaces had failed.
Film of their narrow escape made it onto the web, and a former test pilot and holder of the Hero of Russia star Magomed Tolboev says they are very lucky to be alive:
“They started the second approach turn while trying to land, and then, like true pros, flew by the seat of their pants while manually correcting the autopilot’s moves.”
And the Generals would have never have heard about it if not for the internet, where it has been christened the “dancing plane”. Now a military inquiry is being held. Media reports say the plane had been parked for 10 years, and was being flown to a workshop for repairs when systems failed.
The TU 154 first entered service in 1968. It has a poor recent safety record.