- A huge section of the cockpit was smashed off when a bird hit into the plane
- Eyewitnesses heard a ‘loud pop’ before the plane was forced to veer off course
- Pilot Gregor Ogston landed safely and was said to be ‘shaken’ but unharmed
A Red Arrows air show was suddenly halted when the cockpit of a £5m jet was smashed by a bird.
One of the jets, Red 6, was forced to break off from the formation during the Rhyl Air Show 2022 in North Wales when its glass cockpit was dramatically shattered.
Thousands of spectators were watching the scene unfold from the ground below and eyewitnesses heard a ‘loud pop’ before the plane was forced to veer off course.
Pilot Gregor Ogston gave an ’emergency 7700 squawk transponder code’ to signal he was in trouble during the display.
Red 6’s teammates continued over the seaside town until they received permission to return back to the Hawarden airport.
The disappointed crowd were told Red 6 had been the victim of a ‘bird strike’ – where a bird had collided with the jet mid-air.
It struck the section of the £5m jet’s glass cockpit just inches from the pilot.
It shattered the pane, leaving it with a gaping hole and its pilot exposed to the elements.
One eye-witness said: ‘That pilot is lucky to be alive. Anything could have happened in that moment – Top Gun for real.’
A spokesman for the RAF Red Arrows said: ‘Thank you to everyone at this weekend’s Rhyl Airshow. We had to finish today’s Red Arrows display a few minutes early after one of our jets suffered a bird strike, damaging the cockpit canopy.
‘This type of incident is not uncommon in aviation and is extremely well-trained for. In this instance, Red 6 and the whole team responded perfectly together, with no further risk to the pilot and aircraft.
‘Happy to report the jet landed safely and the pilot is unhurt. Thank you for all of the well-wishes and many messages of support, asking about the pilot.’
The pilot of the affected plane is said to be ‘a bit shaken’ following the incident. In response to the RAF Red Arrows social media post David Montenegro, the officer commanding the Royal Air Force Aerobatic team, praised the pilot’s actions.
David Montenegro, Officer Commanding the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team said the pilot of Red 6 ‘is a bit shaken but well.’
‘His immediate actions delivered calmly and correctly with the support of his colleagues ensured a safe outcome.’
The seven red Hawk T1 jets left Hawarden at 4.30pm on Sunday for their second performance of the weekend at Rhyl airshow.
The team were due to arrive back at Hawarden at 5.10pm – but just after 4.45pm Red 6 squawked the emergency 7700 transponder code.
That triggered a response from the onsite fire service at Hawarden Airport who were on hand as the jet landed.
Red 6 was followed to the airport by another member of the team to ensure a safe route home and landing.
The other pilots were given a hero’s welcome back at Hawarden and treated to a round of applause by bystanders as they disembarked.