Colwyn Bay RAF pilot saved 187 lives as plane went into nosedive


Staff reporter

AN RAF pilot has told a court how he helped save 187 lives after his military plane nosedived while en route to Camp Bastion in Afghanistan.

Speaking at the court martial of Flt Lt Andrew Townshend, Flt Lt Nathan Jones, of Colwyn Bay, told the hearing in Bulford, Wiltshire, what happened when his Voyager aircraft experienced difficulties while in the control of his co-pilot, Flt Lt Townshend.

The aircraft nosedived 4,400ft in 29 seconds and the 34-year-old, who attended Rydal School and won a bronze medal at the Invictus Games last year, managed to get back to the cockpit and regain control of the plane despite fracturing his back and suffering a number of other injuries that forced him to be medically downgraded.

The camera of Flt Lt Townshend jammed the controls of the military plane, sparking the emergency on the flight from the UK to Camp Bastion in Afghanistan.

He said: “It felt like a rumble, a bit of turbulence, and then suddenly I hit the roof.

"There had been turbulence throughout the flight, so you would initially think that but when you're pinned to the roof you know it's not turbulence.

"I then crawled along the ceiling, and as you have seen the doorway into the cockpit is lower than the ceiling.

"There were a lot of flashing lights in the cockpit, everything was stuck to the ceiling and Flt Lt Townshend was shouting 'get back into your seat, I can't get the auto pilot out'."

Flt Lt Jones (inset) added that he gripped the cockpit overcomb with one hand, and with the other he pulled the joystick, enabling him to regain control.

The plane then diverted to Incirlik Air Base in Turkey, where Flt Lt Jones and other casulaties were treated.

The court heard that after diverting, 49-year-old Flt Lt Townshend lied when filing a log in which he attributed the cause to a mechanical fault.

He allegedly then lied days later while under oath at a service inquiry, by insisting the incident was a result of a technical error.

Flt Lt Jones recalled Flt Lt Townshend, based at RAF Northolt, taking photos on the flight, and occasionally showing him the screen of his Nikon DSLR to show off his pictures.

The trial continues.

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