A pilot is being hailed as a hero after he managed to safely land an Airbus A319 when the windshield blew out about 30 minutes after takeoff. The plane was cruising at 32,000 feet when the pilot, Liu Chuanjian, says that "the windshield just cracked and made a loud bang." He explained that he looked over and saw his "co-pilot had been sucked halfway out of the window."
When the windshield shattered the temperature in cockpit dropped to 40 degrees below zero and the cabin depressurized, causing the equipment to start floating in the air. Chuanjian said that most of the instruments stopped working and that the "plane was shaking so hard I could not read the gauges."
He pulled his co-pilot back into the plane and managed to get his bearings before making an emergency landing in Chengdu without the help of any of the automated equipment.
The co-pilot, Xu Ruichen, suffered minor injuries and is currently hospitalized in Chengdu. No passengers were injured but they were left shaken by the terrifying experience.
One passenger said the "oxygen masks dropped" and everyone onboard "experienced a few seconds of free fall."
“The crew were serving us breakfast when the aircraft began to shake. We didn’t know what was going on and we panicked. Then the oxygen masks dropped... We experienced a few seconds of free fall before it stabilized again,” an unnamed passenger told the government-run China News Service.