The “hero” Russian pilot who safely crash-landed a passenger plane in a cornfield shortly after take-off went back into the cockpit to phone his wife and tell her he was safe.
Captain Damir Yusupov, 41, was forced to take action after birds got caught in both the plane’s engines after jetting off from Moscow’s Zhukovsky Airport.
The other crew members on board the plane were hailed for their bravery. Credit: EVN
Yusupov managed to guide the Ural Airlines Airbus A321, carrying 226 passengers and a crew of seven, safely into a nearby field without losing anyone.
Twenty-three passengers were sent to hospital for minor injuries while an elderly woman required further treatment.
Captain Yusupov played down his life-saving heroics, saying any pilot would have done the same as him.
“Many people say that I am a hero, but to be honest, I don’t feel like a hero at all, because I did what I had to do: saved the plane, passengers, crew,” he said.
After the crash-landing, Captain Yusupov said he went back into the wreckage to get his mobile phone and call his wife to reassure her not to worry.
He said: “After the evacuation of passengers I got out, went around the plane, examined the external damage, made sure that everything was at a safe distance. I returned to the cockpit and from there called my wife.”
Yusupov’s wife told state television from their home in Yekaterinburg that he called her after landing, before she had heard about the emergency.
“He called me and said: ‘Everything is fine, everyone is alive,” she said. “I asked what was it, and he said that birds hit the engine and we landed in a field. I was horrified and in panic and burst into tears.”
Vladimir Putin’s spokesman hailed the crew as “heroes” and said they will receive state awards. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev opened a session of Cabinet by praising the crew and asking the transport minister to explain what happened.
Ural Airlines also praised their captain for his actions, saying he was an experienced pilot who has logged more than 3,000 flight hours.
Captain Yusupov worked as a lawyer before he enrolled in a flight school when he was 32. The father of four has flown with Ural Airlines since he graduated in 2013 and was made a captain last year.
His actions have been compared to the “miracle on the Hudson”, when a US Airways Airbus A320 hit a flock of geese after taking off from New York City’s LaGuardia Airport in 2009.
Both engines shut down and the crew made an emergency landing on the Hudson River. All 155 people aboard survived despite landing in the cold water.