A Red Arrows pilot has won a top RAF honour after the glass cockpit of his jet was smashed in a bird strike.Squadron leader Gregor Ogston, 35, managed to land safely above the packed Rhyl Air Show even though his helmet was badly damaged and the cockpit of his £5m jet wrecked.He was forced to break-off from the rest of the team when the cockpit was shattered by a seagull during the show.
Squadron Leader Ogston has been awarded a Green Endorsement – the Royal Air Force Safety Centre’s highest accolade.
At the Rhyl Air Show in August last year, Ogston was leading the team’s dynamic Synchro Pair routine when he had to break formation after his cockpit was shattered by a seagull.
He said: "Out of the corner of my eye I saw a seagull. I pretty much closed my eyes and ducked at that point because it was so close and the bird hit the canopy, which unfortunately shattered - and the bird and lots of canopy flew into the cockpit."
His RAF survival helmet was badly damaged in the mid-air drama and also from wind blast on the flight to safety.
Ogston had to fly the Red 6 jet with his knees for a period of time as he used his hands to raise the alarm. Eyewitnesses heard a "loud pop" before his jet called Red 6 broke-off from the rest off the formation - as thousands watched from the ground.He gave a "7700 squawk transponder code" to signal an emergency as the jets gave their display at the annual show.
The Scotttish-born pilot was accompanied by Red 7 pilot to ensure a safe landing back to nearby Hawarden Airport.One eye-witness said: "That pilot is lucky to be alive. Anything could have happened in that moment - TopGun for real."Sqn Ldr Ogston said he was very pleased to receive the award, but added it had been a team effort."I am particularly thankful to Red 7, Flt Lt James Turner, who escorted me to the airfield," he said.
"And to the air traffic controllers and emergency services at Hawarden for their quick response and assistance during the emergency."
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