IAF fighter jet's canopy detaches, pilots land safely
Pilots decide not to eject from F-15 'Falcon' fighter jet after its canopy detaches at 30,000 feet during training flight, and instead safely land the plane at the Nevatim Airbase despite strong winds and severe cold; IAF commander stops F-15 training flights until investigation completed.
Two Israel Air Force pilots had to carry out an emergency landing after the canopy of their F-15 fighter jet detached at 30,000 feet during a training flight for a yet unknown reason.
The pilots, a captain and a lieutenant, took off from the Tel Nof Air Base on Wednesday night and were heading south.
During the flight, the canopy detached, leaving the two pilots exposed to severe cold, strong winds and deafening noise.
Despite this, they decided not to eject at 30,000 feet. They reported the incident to the control tower at the Nevatim Air Base, and the base was put on alert and prepared for an emergency landing.
The first few seconds were accompanied by confusion and stress, but the pilots quickly regained their composure.
They were instructed to slow the plane and descend as much as possible, while at the same time land as soon as possible. This they did while facing immensely strong winds and difficulty in communicating with one another.
A senior IAF official said that in such conditions, a decision to eject would have been legitimate as well, but the two pilots realized they could land the plane without risking their own lives.
The IDF Spokesman's Office said in a statement: "During a routine training flight, an F-15 ('Falcon') fighter jet had to land after its canopy detached. The plane's crew was in full control throughout the incident, acted with level-headedness, professionalism and great skill in handling the rare malfunction, and landed the plane safely at the Nevatim Air Base."
IAF Commander Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin ordered to stop all training flights for F-15 Falcon fighter jets until an investigation into the incident is completed.