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12 Sep, 2023 08:23

Passengers of Russian flight describe ‘miraculous’ landing

The Ural Airlines plane with over 160 people aboard has touched down safely, in a field

A Urals Airlines passenger plane has made a forced landing in a wheat field in Russia’s Novosibirsk Region. Passengers told the media they have yet to fully comprehend how lucky they are to come out of the incident alive.

“Well done, you beautiful guy,” a man named Yury said of the pilot of the distressed Airbus A320. “We landed softer than on asphalt.”

An emergency arose on Tuesday as the airliner was making a scheduled flight from the seaside resort of Sochi to Omsk, a major city in Siberia. However, it was diverted to Novosibirsk, further to the east. The unexpected landing took place about 200 km short from the destination.

Passengers gave credit to the crew for remaining calm and keeping people’s spirits up.

“I am very grateful to the crew and the pilots for saving us. It was a miracle,” a female passenger told the local news outlet Gorsite.

“It’s good that we didn’t splash into the water. The weather is chilly,” Yury joked, speaking to the same outlet. The Ubinsk district, where the plane ended up, is dotted with multiple shallow lakes and bogs.

The flight was carrying 161 people, including 23 children and 6 crew members. It was piloted by Sergey Belov, who happens to have a namesake who likewise works for the same airline. The other Belov kindly asked journalists not to ask him questions that he cannot answer, when the media rushed to contact him after the news broke.

The actual hero who shepherded the aircraft comes from a family of aviators, Ural Airlines has revealed. His grandfather served in the Soviet military and was a navigator on a long-range bomber.

Belov’s father, Vladimir, was a civilian pilot, and was involved in an emergency situation in 1989. The alert turned out to be false in the end, but he acted courageously and was awarded a state decoration for it. Later in his career, he trained younger pilots for Ural Airlines.

The youngest member of the air dynasty is now 33 and has dreamed of a pilot’s career since childhood, according to the company.

The cause of Tuesday’s emergency was not immediately clear, though some reports claimed the plane experienced a hydraulics malfunction.

Some media compared it to the emergency landing of another Ural Airlines flight in August 2019. The Airbus A321 hit a flock of gulls during takeoff from Moscow and had to land in a nearby maize field. All 233 people on board survived, though dozens were injured.