November 8th, 2008

Unlucky but Plucky

Jim O'Neill was flying solo. He was going from Scotland to England in a Cessna. At 5500 feet, he suddenly went blind.
"It was terrifying," O'Neill said. "Suddenly, I couldn't see the dials in front of me."
A blood clot had gone to his brain.

Fortunately, all the rest of his brain kept working pretty well. He was able to call for help. An RAF pilot, Paul Gerrard, who was already in the air, found him, flew along with him, and guided him by radio to a safe landing.
"Landing an aircraft literally blind needs someone to be right there to say 'Left a bit, right a bit, stop, down,'" Gerrard said. "On the crucial final approach, even with radar assistance, you need to take over visually."
The extra good news is that O'Neill seems to be getting his sight back.

I've never flown a plane,
but if I ever do,
I'll kindly ask my brain
to not go blind until I'm through.