Practice English Speaking&Listening with: A Plane Lost One Wing So a Pilot Decided to Do This

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You know, youre capable of unbelievable things. Yes, I mean you, watching this video

right this moment! And your full potential is unleashed when youre in an extreme situation

or when you arent aware that the thing youre doing is impossible. A great example

of both these conditions is the hero of my story today.

May 1, 1983. It was a regular training day for the Israeli Air Force over the NeGEV region.

Several combat jets were up in the air, simulating an aerial fight. One of those jets was an

F-15 Eagle that already had some history and even got a nicknameMarkia Schakim, which

meansSky Blazerin Hebrew. Piloting the jet was a new member of the Air

Force, Zivi Nedivi, and behind him sat his instructor and navigator, Yehoar Gal, an experienced

pilot himself. The training exercise they were performing wasnt anything out of the

ordinary drill: two F-15s were to get away from four A-4 Skyhawks in the open sky over

the desert. If everything went according to plan and instructions, no danger would come

to any pilots or aircraft. At least thats what everyone believed.

Nedivi, being a member of the outnumbered team, wove through the skies, dodging enemy

attacks and looking out for an opening to issue his own. It was an impressive sight,

and the young pilot was doing spectacularly well. Now, it must be said that dogfights

(thats how such combat trainings are called) have all kinds of limitations to ensure pilots

safety. After all, it was just a drill, not a real-life situation, so losing a costly

aircraft or especially a priceless human life was out of the question.

But things tend to heat up when youre doing your best to beat your opponent, even when

youre playing tag. Imagine, then, what a thrill it was for fighter jet pilots! Long

story short, at some point the situation went out of hand. One of the Skyhawk pilots saw

an opportunity to attack an Eagle with a missile and tried to zero in on his target. What he

didnt see was that the other F-15, piloted by Nedivi, was right above him. The young

pilot was aware that the opponents jet was on a collision course with him and attempted

a dodge, but it was too little too late. The left wing of the A-4 went up, tore through

the right wing of the Eagle above, and sheared it off. Nedivi was basically left with a single

wing to fly. At this point, both the pilot and his instructor

should have ejected, leaving the aircraft to fall but saving their lives. Neither did,

though. Through smoke and evaporating fuel leaking from their own jet, they saw the A-4

turn into an enormous fireball. The following radio transmission brought relief, though:

the Skyhawks pilot managed to quickly eject and save his life. He was lucky: a second

later, and he wouldve exploded with his machine.

Having made sure the other pilot was safe, Nedivi and Gal quickly returned to their own

concerns. And those were terrifying. The jet had lost control and was going down at a 30-degree

angle to the ground, making crazy twists and spirals. Whats more, it was losing fuel

profusely, and neither the pilot, nor his instructor could see clearly because the leaking

fuel was turning into a cloud of vapor. Zivi Nedivi knew his aircraft was badly damaged,

but he was pretty sure he could land it safely. Where did this confidence come from when he

was flying on a single wing, you ask? The answer is simple: he didnt know that.

The trouble was in the cloud of fuel vapor I just mentioned. The pilot and his instructor

had very bad visuals and, looking around them, they couldnt see that their right wing

was torn at the root. There were warning lights flashing all around, but none of them told

Nedivi just how dire his situation was. So, thinking that the Eagle could be saved, he

told his navigator to stay with him. Yehoar Gal disapproved of his trainees decision,

ordering him to eject as soon as he manages to level the aircraft. Nedivi refused and

insisted he could land the F-15. Gal had no choice but to comply. And so they flew onwards.

Nedivi really managed to get the controls back and leveled the jet. It was now time

to wholly evaluate the situation and the condition of the Eagle. They both saw the stream of

fuel from the right side, and the fuel indicator showed that the tanks were empty for that

wing. Again, being unaware of the real loss, they thought the tanks sustained damage in

the collisionpunctured or torn, perhaps. Neither of them entertained the idea they

might be crippled, otherwise they wouldve bailed out much earlier.

The pilot assessed the odds and tried to slow down a bit, but the jet immediately went out

of control again. So Nedivi made the only sensible decision there was, in his opinion:

he accelerated once more, switching on the afterburners, regained control of the aircraft,

and directed it to the nearest Air Force base, which was 10 miles away. He knew the remaining

fuel would allow him to make it. As he approached the airfield, Nedivi requested

the ground crew to deploy the safety net and catch the F-15 if necessary. That was a sensible

idea too: the pilot realized the Eagle was moving too fast for a regular landing and

couldnt slow down without risking loss of control again. This close to the ground

and to other people, it was even more dangerous than in the open sky.

In the end, the Eagle touched down at twice the recommended landing speed and lowered

its tail hook to help stop the vehicle. But the tension was so high that the hook only

managed to slow the jet down and then snapped. The eyewitnesses say they didnt believe

what they were seeing: a one-winged fighter Eagle was speeding like a bullet along the

landing strip, its tail hook torn out by the sheer force of the tugand then it miraculously

stopped just 35 ft before the safety net. Both Zivi Nadivi and Yehoar Gal were safe

and sound inside the cockpit. While they were still in the final stages of stopping the

aircraft, they received a radio message saying that neither of them would believe what theyd

just done. And it was only when Nadivi turned back to shake his navigator and instructors

hand that he realized the actual scale of the damage done to his jet. What he hadnt

seen before was now horrifyingly obvious: instead of the right wing, there was only

a bunch of wire and metal sticking out of the fuselage.

After the incident, the Israeli Air Force sent an official inquiry to McDonnell Douglas,

the F-15 manufacturer. The military asked whether an Eagle is capable of flying and

successfully landing without a wing. The reply was adamant: no, that was physically impossible.

In return to that answer, the IAF sent pictures of Nedivis aircraft to the company. The

engineers there were at a loss for words. They started their own tests right away.

Finally, they were able to crack this mystery. After numerous simulations, it turned out

that it was all thanks to the horizontal surface area of the jet. Its fuselage, the remaining

wing, and the stabilizers at the rear helped the Eagle generate lift and stay under control.

And of course, no one could deny Zivi Nadivis masterful handling of the aircraft. As he

would recall later, he heard that Eagles can become something like rockets at certain speeds.

Thats why, when he slowed down, the jet became uncontrollable, but the second he gained

speed again, it stabilized. At the time, no other fighter jet was able to do that kind

of stunt. The amazing Eagle was fully repaired afterwards

and served in the Air Force for several more years. Today, its retired and exhibited

in an outdoor aircraft museum in Israel, backstory and all.

As for the pilot, Zivi Nadivi, he remained in the Air Force too, of course. And his story

after the incident is a bit amusing: first, he was demoted for disobeying orders from

his instructor; and then he was immediately promoted for landing the aircraft and thus

saving it. Nadivi continued to serve as a fighter jet pilot and became something of

a celebrity in the Israeli Air Force. Years later, there was even a documentary based

on his story made by the History Channel. And he deserved every bit of this attention.

Do you think any other pilot or jet wouldve managed such a feat? Let me know down in the

comments! If you learned something new today, then give this video a like and share it with

a friend.

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Stay on the Bright Side of life!

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