An Israel Air Force F-15 reportedly lost its canopy in a freak accident during a training flight at 30,000 feet last week. The pilots, suddenly exposed to the rarified atmosphere, managed to coax the plane back down for a gentle landing.
The two pilots, a captain and a lieutenant, took off from the Tel Nof airbase near the central Israeli city of Rehovot, and began a routine training flight southwards, the Yedioth Ahronoth daily reported Monday.
During the flight, the plane’s canopy suddenly became detached. The cause of the separation is not yet known.
The pilots were startled, but did not panic, according to the report. They radioed the control tower, slowed their flight, and began an orderly descent amid biting cold and violent turbulence.
They landed safely at the Nevatim airbase east of Beersheba.
“The air crew in the plane had full control of the incident throughout,” a statement from the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said. The pilots “acted with calm, professionalism and expertise in handling the unusual fault, and brought the plane to a safe landing at the Nevatim Air Force Base.”
Air Force chief Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin immediately ordered an investigation of the incident and a halt to all training flights on the F-15s, known in Hebrew as the “Baz,” or “Falcon.”