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Dutch pilot Narine Melkumjan's canopy opened in flight.

Badass Pilot Wrestles Plane to a Landing When Canopy Shatters Mid-Flight

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What do you do when your aircraft canopy shatters in flight?

“Keep flying,” Dutch aerobat Narine Melkumjan says. She took to social media to share the video of herself doing just that during the “distressing” experience, hoping that her fellow pilots would take note.

A couple of years ago during her second aerobatic training flight of that day, on a very hot summer day, the canopy of her Extra 330LX opened in flight and shattered, Melkumjan wrote in June.

Others quickly picked up the clip.

“As you can see from the video, it was a challenging experience that could have been avoided if I had made a proper visual check before taking off,” Melkumjan wrote on her own X account. The canopy locking pin had never gone into the locked position, and I failed to notice it during my checks.

“I also made the mistake of going to the training camp right after recovering from COVID, without allowing my body enough time to fully regain strength. Additionally, flying without any eye protection made the flight even more challenging than it already was.”

She described the experience as follows.

“The flight was a distressing experience, filled with noise, breathing difficulties, and impaired visibility. It took me nearly 28 hours to fully recover my vision. Aerodynamically, I’ve experienced some buffet and controllability challenges. Probably the most difficult part was to keep the power in, thus trading my vision and breathing for kinetic energy.

“Although due to all the noise it was difficult to hear what my coach was saying on the radio, one thing I’ve heard loud and clear “just keep flying”. If you are a pilot watching this, I hope that my story serves as a cautionary tale and that you will learn from my mistakes.

“I regret that it took me so long to share this video footage. It’s not easy to put my vulnerabilities out there for you all to see. However, I have come to realisze how important it is to be transparent about our shortcomings and the lessons we learn along the way.”

She concludes with a message to aviators:

“To all my fellow pilots out there, fly safe.”

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