British Red Arrows pilot survives bird strike at 100ft, 400MPH

A British Royal Air Force demo pilot was both lucky and good at a Welsh air show on August 28. Red Arrows Squadron Leader Gregor Osten, aka Red 6, was conducting an opposition pass in his Hawk T1-A jet with his Red 7 counterpart at 400 MPH just 100 feet off the ground when he spotted a seagull at the last nanosecond in his peripheral vision.

He said: “I closed my eyes and ducked down at the time because it was so close, and the bird hit the canopy, which unfortunately broke off. The bird and much of the canopy then flew into the cockpit. The impact happened about two seconds before we actually crossed the middle of the screen.

Osten credits the pilot of the Red 7 with quick action to avoid his plane, helping to avert disaster. But that was only the beginning of the adventure. “My mask ripped off my face and broke,” he said, “so to transmit on the radio, I had to use my left hand to press the button to transmit, my hand right to hold the mask over my face. And that left me flying the plane with my knees, briefly. It all ended well, as Osten, in his fourth year of flying for the Red Arrows, was able to maneuver to a safe landing close to Hawarden airfield, where the Red Arrows were based for the show.

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