A Russian pilot was being hailed as a
hero yesterday for landing an Airbus carrying more than 230 people in a
Moscow corn field after a bird strike.
The Ural Airlines A321 flying to Crimea hit a flock of seagulls shortly after take-off from Moscow's Zhukovsky airport, the Rosaviatsia air transport agency said.
Birds were sucked into the engines and the crew decided to immediately land, bringing the plane down in the corn field about a kilometer from the runway, with the engines off and the landing gear retracted.
The aircraft, carrying 226 passengers and seven crew, was evacuated using inflatable ramps. The health ministry said 23 people were sent to hospital but there were no serious injuries.
"It all happened in a few seconds ... We took off and came back down," passenger Irina Usacheva said.
Passenger Svetlana Babina said the bird strike could be heard from inside the plane and that the engines started making "strange noises".
"We have to pay tribute to the pilot, in the circumstances he landed as softly as possible," she added.
The pilot, identified as 41-year-old Yekaterinburg native Damir Yusupov, was praised for his quick thinking.