‘Blind’ RAF pilot is talked down to safe landing in North Yorkshire

Library picture of a BAE Hawk aircraft at RAF Leeming.  Picture by Simon Hulme

Library picture of a BAE Hawk aircraft at RAF Leeming. Picture by Simon Hulme

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AN RAF pilot was temporarily blinded and had to be guided into landing his jet in North Yorkshire by a colleague in another aircraft, it was revealed today.

The pilot was flying solo during a training flight on Thursday when he was stricken by a suspected eye infection and radioed for assistance.

The Hawk jet, which was returning to RAF Leeming, was joined by another aircraft from the same squadron as a “wingman” to provide guidance. The two aircraft then flew in formation and landed safely.

A source said the unnamed pilot’s vision was so impaired that there was initially thought to be little chance he could land safely - forcing officers to consider having him eject into the North Sea.

The pilot in the second plane is reported to be Flight Lieutenant Paul Durban, 39, an instructor at RAF Leeming.

The RAF has provided few details about the incident, but a spokesman said: “The impaired pilot flew in formation back to RAF Leeming with the other aircraft where the pilot landed the aircraft uneventfully.”

The spokesman added: “Flying in formation, and conducting an approach to land as a formation, is a skill practised daily by RAF fast jet pilots.”

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