Aerial Oddities: 36 Fascinating and Peculiar Aviation Events

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1Pizza pilot

Pizza pilot

In 2014, an airline pilot ordered 30 pizzas for his passengers, after finding out they would be delayed 2 hours for weather. The pizzas were delivered within 30 minutes by Domino’s and were cleared by security and sent directly to the plane in an official airport vehicle.


2. In 1960, a Russian terrorist named Alex Hildebrandt tried to hijack Trans Australia flight 408, armed with a bomb. Co-pilot Tom R. Bennett punched him in the face and ripped the wires off the bomb, saving 49 lives.


3. The O'Hare Airport is named after an American fighter pilot named Edward O'Hare who was the lone defender during an attack on his carrier. He was killed leading the first night defense against a Kamikaze attack. Two years earlier, his own father was murdered for being the only man willing to testify against Al Capone.


4. The two rival TV helicopter pilots, both men (Dana-Vahle, formerly Dirk, and Zoey Tur, formerly Bob), who duked it out for OJ Simpson police chase footage have since both had sex change operations and become female friends.


5. Famous aviator Charles Lindbergh served in World War 2 as a fighter pilot, despite still being a civilian. His wingman was known as "Fishkiller Miller" after he missed a target and accidentally killed thousands of nearby fish instead.


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69/11

9/11

On 9/11, some jet fighters took to the air without live ammunition, knowing that to prevent the hijackers from striking their intended targets, the pilots might have to intercept and crash their fighters into the hijacked planes, ejecting at the last moment.


7. A test pilot named Thomas W. Attridge Jr. accidentally shot his own aircraft down while testing the F-11 Tiger. After firing a short burst at 13,000 feet, he accelerated into a dive and leveled off to fire another burst at 7,000 feet, where he was struck by the bullets he'd fired earlier.


8. In 1970, a fighter jet landed itself on a cornfield in Montana after the pilot ejected from it following an unrecoverable spin. His act of ejection changed the center of gravity of the plane, allowing it to recover. It went back into service after minor repair work.


9. During the World War 2 naval battle of Leyte Gulf, an American pilot named Lt. Thomas C. Lupo made repeated attack runs against one of the largest battleships in history, Japan's IJN Yamato. After running out of ammunition, the pilot continued attacking, throwing a Coke bottle and other loose cockpit articles at the ship’s bridge.


10. Hazel Ying Lee who was a Chinese-American World War 2 pilot, had two forced landings. One landing took place in a Kansas wheat field. A farmer, pitchfork in hand, chased her around the plane while shouting to his neighbors that the Japanese had invaded the Kansas.


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11Tex Johnson

Tex Johnson

Without notice or warning to Boeing executives, test pilot Tex Johnson did a barrel roll with his Boeing 707 over Lake Washington in Seattle, at an air show that had a lot of potential customers in attendance. When asked by his boss “What the hell were you doing?” Johnson responded “Selling airplanes.” He was not terminated.


12. The most isolated human being ever was Alfred Worden, command module pilot of Apollo 15, who in lunar orbit was at a maximum distance of 2,235 miles (3,597 km) from his fellow astronauts on the surface. While on the other side of the Moon, no communication with Earth or his comrades was possible.


13. During the Korean War, Air Force pilot James Robinson Risner successfully “pushed” his wingman’s incapacitated jet fighter into friendly territory using the nose of his own jet, a maneuver that had never been attempted in history.


14. In World War 2, German field marshal Erwin Rommel would often personally pilot a reconnaissance aircraft over the battle to view the situation. Although Rommel did not have a pilot's license, his skill with machinery made him a competent pilot, and none of the Luftwaffe officers had the nerve to stop him.


15. In 1943, a Luftwaffe pilot named Franz Stigler refused to destroy a damaged B-17 Flying Fortress. The German pilot named Charlie Brown escorted the B-17 to the English Channel and then saluted the American pilot and returned home. 40 years later they were reunited and developed a deep friendship that lasted until their deaths.


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16Manfred von Richthofen

Manfred von Richthofen

In 1916, a German fighter pilot named Manfred von Richthofen was considered a below average pilot who crashed during his first flight at the controls. Upon his death two years, and 80 aerial kills later, the British buried The Red Baron with full military honors out of respect for his skill as an aviator.


17. German World War 2 pilots in North Africa would fix bottles of Coca Cola to the underside of their wings so that the drink would cool at high altitude and be ready to drink after landing.


18. During the World War 2, a Soviet pilot named T. Kuznetsov, survived the crash of his Ilyushin Il-2 when shot down returning from a reconnaissance mission. Kuznetsov escaped from the wreck and hid nearby. To his surprise, a German Bf 109 fighter landed near the crash site and the pilot began to investigate the wrecked Il-2, possibly to assist Kuznetsov, or to look for souvenirs. Thinking quickly, Kuznetsov ran to the German fighter and used it to fly home, barely avoiding being shot down by Soviet fighters in the process.


19. The movie "Behind Enemy Lines" told the story backward. The downed pilot named Scott O'Grady was rescued with full NATO cooperation and was in fact put into danger by a US general releasing information to the press. The pilot sued Fox over the movie and they settled out of court.


20. In 1968, a Japanese pilot named Kohei Asoh landed Japan Airlines Flight 2 near Coyote Point in the shallow waters of San Francisco Bay, two and a half miles short of the runway due to heavy fog and other factors. When asked about it, he replied “As you Americans say, I f*cked up.”


21Sergeant Sydney Cohen

Sergeant Sydney Cohen

In World War 2, a British pilot named Sergeant Sydney Cohen made an emergency landing on the Italian island of Lampedusa, only to have the island surrender to him.


22. NASA pilots routinely intercepted and defeated U.S. Navy Phantom II's in mock dogfights, until complaints from the Navy put an end to the harassment.


23. A Russian pilot named Pyotr Nesterov was both the first pilot to fly a loop in an airplane and the first to destroy an enemy aircraft in flight. He died during the latter attempt because planes did not have weapons and he had to ram it.


24. In 1943, American pilot Alan Magee survived a fall from 20,000 feet without a parachute. He fell from his damaged B-17 Flying Fortress and smashed through the glass roof of the St. Nazaire railroad station. He survived and lived to the age of 82.


25. In May 1983, two Israeli Air Force aircrafts, an F-15 Eagle and an A-4 Skyhawk, collided in mid-air during a training exercise over the Negev region in Israel. Notably, the F-15 – with a crew of two – managed to land safely at a nearby airbase, despite having its right wing almost completely sheared off in the collision.

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