A real-life Top Gun happened above the UK last week

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Chris Sayer

If you've got a need, a need to see the recently announced Top Gun 2 film, then you'll kick yourself that you didn't have your eyes to the skies above North Yorkshire last week.

In events that mirror the Maverick/Cougar scene from the soon-to-turn-thirty-years-old classic action movie, it's been disclosed that on January 28 an RAF pilot lost his sight while at the controls of a mid-flight Hawk jet, and was brought to safety thanks to a level-headed colleague talking him through the landing.

The unnamed pilot radioed back to base after the suspected medical condition crippled his vision during a training mission out of the RAF base in Leeming, Yorkshire. The commanders on the ground initially felt the chances of him landing safely were so small that they considered ejecting him over the North Sea and ditching the plane, before 39-year-old hero pilot Flt Lt Paul Durban was dispatched to talk the sightless pilot back down to the ground.

“During a routine training sortie on Thursday, one of our pilots temporarily suffered a partial loss of vision," an RAF spokesperson said. "To assist in the recovery of the aircraft to RAF Leeming, the pilot used the radio to request the assistance of a wingman and was promptly joined by another aircraft from the same squadron.The impaired pilot flew in formation back to RAF Leeming with the other aircraft where the pilot landed the aircraft uneventfully. Flying in formation, and conducting an approach to land as a formation, is a skill practised daily by RAF fast jet pilots.”

Hawk jets are the same planes used by the Red Arrows, and can reach speeds of 550 knots, or approximately 632 miles per hour.

The RAF are yet to disclose whether the pilots celebrated the safe landing with a game of near-naked baby oil-soaked volleyball. 


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Chris Sayer

Chris Sayer is a freelance journalist and editor based in London. Chris has interviewed some of the biggest names in entertainment and travelled the world doing an all manner of adventures for lots of brilliant magazines. He writes for Shortlist about booze but would probably prefer we let him write about fishing instead. Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisSayer00

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