Heathrow Pilot Hailed as Hero

Deftly averted crashing into houses, road, perimeter fence
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 18, 2008 5:47 AM CST
The British Airways Boeing 777 plane flying in from China that landed short of the runway at London's Heathrow Airport, Thursday Jan. 17, 2008. The plane was flight BA38 from Beijing to London, British...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – When all power on a British Airways flight suddenly failed 400 feet above ground as it headed into Heathrow Airport yesterday, pilot Peter Burkill had to muster all his skills gained in decades of flying to save the lives of hundreds of people—not only passengers, but also those in the cars and houses the plane was barrelling toward, the Telegraph reports.

The catastrophe happened so fast there was not even time to warn passengers to adopt the emergency brace position. Burkill managed to "belly-flop" the plane into a grassy clearing just 20 feet from a busy road. No one was killed, and passengers suffered only minor injuries. He "deserves a medal as big as a frying pan," said an airport worker.