Watch closely as a bird crosses the path of a ThomsonFly Airlines Boeing 757 taking off at Manchester, England in 2007. The bird is sucked into the starboard engine, which catches fire in a series of blasts. Unlike this week’s US Airways ditching in the Hudson River, this plane stayed aloft, onboard fire extinguishers put the blaze out and everyone (but the bird) landed safely.
Harrowing moments away from disaster, a Lufthansa Airbus 320 last year crabs in crosswinds while attempting to land at Hamburg. As the 320 starts to tip over onto the port wing the pilot applies full power and takes off again. The plane made a circuit around the airport and landed without incident.
A Canadian-made Bombardier Dash 8-400, flown by Scandinavian Airlines System, loses its starboard landing gear just as it touches down at Aarborg airport in Denmark in 2007. No one was hurt.
A sickening thump as the propellers shear off, but this Air New Zealand Link Beechcraft 1900D makes a flawless wheels-up landing at Blenheim airport, saving the lives of all 17 people aboard.
A brand new Airbus 320 chartered for a flying club demonstration makes a low pass over Basel/Mulhouse airport in Alsace in 1988. Too low it turns out. With the gear down and nose up too high, the plane plows into a forest at the end of the airport and crashes in a fireball. Miraculously, out of 136 people aboard, only three perish.
Aircraft are built to withstand tremendous stresses. During the development of the MD-80 series of airliners in the 1980s, McDonnell-Douglas ran tests of extremely hard landings to reveal structural weaknesses. The result was a much stronger tail assembly.