An eyewitness account: how Tu-154 pilots prevented a plane crash over Moscow

An eyewitness account: how Tu-154 pilots prevented a plane crash over Moscow
An eyewitness account: how Tu-154 pilots prevented a plane crash over Moscow
25 January 2021, 20:59Incidents
To free the aircraft landing gear stuck before landing, the pilots resorted to an extremely risky, but effective method.

Andrey Zlobin, mathematician, scientist

I was then a student at the Bauman Moscow Higher Technical School. Like many of my peers I worked in construction brigades, including the Arctic. In 1979 and 1981, as part of the summer construction team of the Moscow Higher Technical School, he flew to Norilsk and back. In Norilsk and Talnakh our propaganda team, a group of musicians, was on a double watch. After 11 hours of hard work on concrete works, we still had time to play at dance parties for local youth far after midnight, the bright polar night helped.

In a short time of working breaks, sometimes instead of sleeping, they performed at city concert venues, in the Palace of Metallurgists, just on the streets, country recreation centers. The month of intense physical activity did not pass without a trace for the fighters of the construction brigade - everyone was decently tired and, before returning to Moscow, had a good walk in the famous Norilsk restaurant "69 parallel".

Departure from Alykel airport took place on time and was accompanied by jokes from aviation officials about the soporific effect of restaurants. Indeed, barely having time to sit down, our entire construction team, as if on command, plunged into a serene sleep. I was not particularly fond of the restaurant, and throughout the flight I felt vigorous, admiring the breathtaking views from the window. Therefore, only I was destined to fully experience the stress and find out what happened in the sky of Moscow before landing.

In those years, regular flights Tu-154 "Moscow-Norilsk" were sent and received by Vnukovo airport. At that time I lived on the street of 26 Baku commissars and often watched the liners flying almost over my house. And now, preparing for landing, I noticed my native street and house floating below. Are we sitting down? But time passed, but there was still no landing. We were clearly moving away from Vnukov. Moreover, unusual mechanical sounds began to be heard, and my body felt some jerks of the aircraft. The feeling of anxiety grew and it grew stronger when my house appeared downstairs a second time. Second circle! What is it for? The flight attendants fussed about, they quickly walked around the cabin and checked the seat belts of the sleepy passengers. I sat in the very tail on the right, and there were two empty seats behind me. In the end, the flight attendants sat down in these seats and fastened their seat belts. Turning my head to the window, out of the corner of my ear I heard a quiet whisper of one of the girls behind me: "Our right landing gear does not come out...".

Music campaign team MVTU named after Bauman, flying on the flight "Norilsk-Moscow." Performance at the local prevention center "Valyok." Shoot by Norilsk television. The author is the far left..

That's when I envied my dozing comrades. They don't know anything. The seconds became infinitely long and thoughts in my head rushed frantically one after another. Lay down with one left landing gear on the right wing? Then I, sitting on the right, most likely will not be good. Will they land on their belly without landing gear? Horse-radish isn't sweeter than garden radish!... (it's a russian proverb which means - "between two evils it is not worth choosing" - noted by the editor) In the movies I saw a truck driven at full speed, and the plane leaned on it with one wing... an unpleasant chill ran through my back. What will happen next?

As if hearing me, Tu-154 engines howled, the nose of the plane tilted down, and it rushed to the ground, rapidly increasing speed. Streets and houses under the wings merged into one continuous flickering confusion. Closer to the ground ... The speed became enormous. What are they doing?! There will be no wet place from us! The actions of the pilots were completely incomprehensible to me. Instinctively, I sank into the chair. And suddenly the liner shook as if it had been hit with a huge sledgehammer. We slowed down as quickly in the air as we accelerated before. At the same time, I felt a single dull blow from the starboard side, from which the whole plane shuddered. So that's it - a trick a la Chkalov! Only then it dawned on me that due to sharp braking and inertia, the pilots literally knocked out the stuck right landing gear, freeing it from "captivity". Indeed, the nose of the liner leveled off, the flight became smooth, calm, and after a few minutes we landed neatly at the Vnukovo airfield.

Perhaps experienced pilots who find themselves in more difficult situations forgot to think about that incident. But I will remember the state of emergency over Moscow for the rest of my life. Then I did not tell anyone about this - why worry in vain my comrades, my family, because everything ended well. Forty years have passed since then, but even now I remember with gratitude the Tu-154 pilots, whose high professionalism helped to avoid a catastrophic situation. Unfortunately, I do not remember the exact date of the flight. I want all pilots to hear my gratitude - courageous people of a very difficult and honorable profession.

Zlobin Andrey Yevgenievich - at the turn of the 80s, a passenger of flight Tu-154 "Norilsk-Moscow".

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