The Most Amazing Crashes that Pilots Walked Away From

After his B17 crash-landed in 1944, U.S. Air Force photographer Gerald R. Massie famously said, "Any landing you can walk away from is a good one." The following compilation might have given him pause.

Leading off, a Canadian Air Force F/A-18 Hornet loses all control while conducting an air-show practice flight at an Alberta airport. As it happened, the Bee Gees' song Staying Alive was playing over the public address system at the time.

The pilot, who had the good sense to eject, lands safely. His account, along with an NBC news video clip of the account, are here:

Next up, a helicopter crash that you'd dismiss as over the top of you saw it in a Michael Bay movie. It took place February 8 in the mountainous Paktika province of Afghanistan…

An AH-64 Apache helicopter was overwatching patrols retrieving airdropped supplies…

Then—well, you just have to see it:

"Thankfully," according to an International Security Assistance Force official, "no one on the ground was injured and both members of the aircrew survived.

Next, ever wonder what would happen if you're swimming in the ocean and a hovering Harrier jet experiences catastrophic mechanical failure and plunges in with you? There's a good case study, from the 2002 Lowestoft Seafront Air Festival in Suffolk, England. An RAF GR-7 was hovering feet above the water and…


The pilot was fine—a lifeboat picked him up. He even got his ejection seat back in tact, courtesy of fisherman. In it was a—bonus—crab.



Batting cleanup, the tale of the one-winged Eagle, as in a McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle, a twin-engine, all-weather tactical fighter that is, to say the least, durable. During a 1983 training exercise in Israel, an Israeli Air Force F-15 collided midair with an A-4. The A-4 burst into a fireball instantly. The F-15 flew away with one wing. But could it keep flying with one wing? Let alone land?  Physics says no. But truth is stranger than physics.

Here's a History Channel clip with pilot Zivi Nedivi's account:

In the subsequent investigation, McDonnell Douglas officials believed the plane to have been involved in a taxiing accident. A flight with just one wing was impossible, they said. Then they were shown video. The official conclusion: The damaged Eagle had been able to return to base and land on account of the lift generated by both its engine intakes and its fuselage.

They put on a new wing and the Eagle returned to work.

Last, a spectator snapped the following Swift S-1 glider sequence at a 2010 English air show:

As you can see, the pilot crawled out of the wreckage. He suffered three broken vertebrae, but made a full recovery. You'd take three broken vertebrae in this scenario.

RELATED LINKS: Great Aerial Badasses: Godefroy Tries to Thread the Arc de Triomphe

And if you like stories (albeit made-up) with plane and helicopter crashes and explosions, check out these novels: