An Israeli Air Force two-seat F-15D Baz jet lost its canopy at 30,000 feet during a training exercise last week. The crew recovered the aircraft safely, making an emergency landing at Nevatim Airbase, Israel.
The Israel Air Force has grounded its fleet of F-15 fighter jets. The canopy was found on Tuesday near Hebron.
The incident happened Jan. 2 after the airmen took off on a routine training mission from the Tel Nof air base in central Israel and began to head south, the Jerusalem Post reported.
After the canopy suddenly detached, the pilot and the navigator were exposed to whipping winds, a deafening noise, and temperatures of negative-49 degrees.
According to the Times of Israel, journalist Juda Ari Gross reported that, “Israel Defense Forces officials praised the pilot and navigator of the aircraft for displaying a ‘calm temperament’ when the top of their plane flew off suddenly last Wednesday, exposing them to frigid air, vicious winds, and deafening noise.”
The army released sound recordings of the incident in which shouting is heard followed by the pilot, who has been identified as Capt. Y, telling the ground: “Coming in for a landing at the nearest base without a canopy. Please confirm.” The plane’s navigator, 1st Lt. R., then asked the pilot if he was all right. “Yes, everything is all right,” he replied. The navigator then confirmed that he too was all right. The pilot was asked to slow his speed and then said: “We have no problem getting to base.”
There were no prior signs of a problem before the canopy dislodged, nor did any warning lights go on. The pilot and his navigator “handled the event under complicated circumstances,” the Israel Defense Forces said. “In a joint decision, by the air crew, after they understood the significance of the incident and, assessing that they could steer the plane to a safe landing, reported the incident to [air traffic] control and headed for the closest base for a landing.”
The commander of the Israeli air force, Amikam Norkin, has ordered a halt to all training flights with the aircraft pending an investigation, according to Haaretz.