This Landing Was Truly a ‘Miracle on the Fly’

A moment of crazy luck that brought a luxury plane from Spain to the Australian coast miraculously stopped short of the cliffs that now mark it in history as the “lucky” landing of a plane in a long-distance, high-speed emergency landing. But the awesome video shot by two rescue helicopters shows Víctor Hidalgo Viñales calmly touching down in the southern corner of New South Wales. There was barely anything to jump to. Just a fresh stretch of open grass, some fresh shrubs and the old flight plan visible in the sun. The Spaniard, then an avionics engineer for Vueling, an airline in the United Kingdom and Ireland, was doing 40,000 feet over rugged mountain terrain when the emergency called his plane down and the pilots had to turn back. “It was incredible,” Viñales told The Australian on Thursday. He had been piloting Vueling’s E321 at the time of the landing and flying it, simultaneously, to a client base in North America and back across the globe. The two helicopter pilots who responded in the distance grabbed the plane by the straps and led it back to the runway. Little did the pilot know that his bizarre “bail out” would offer the surface view of the land of tomorrow. “After landing,” he recalled, “we looked and it was a bare lot. Some bush, nothing.”

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