Mistakes are universal, professional response is not. The world of aviation is celebrating Dutch pilot Narine Melkumjan for remaining calm and safely landing her aircraft Extra 330LX after the canopy blew open and shattered mid-flight leaving her exposed to the elements. It took her 28 hours to fully recover her vision after expertly handling this inflight emergency. Read her full account of the incident below:

Couple of years ago during my second training flight on a very hot summer day, the canopy of the Extra 330LX that I was flying opened in flight and shattered.

As you can see from the video, it was a challenging experience that could have been avoided if I had made a proper visual check before taking off. The canopy locking pin had never gone into the locked position, and I failed to notice it during my checks. I also made the mistake of going to the training camp right after recovering from COVID, without allowing my body enough time to fully regain strength.

Additionally, flying without any eye protection made the flight even more challenging than it already was. The flight was a distressing experience, filled with noise, breathing difficulties, and impaired visibility. It took me nearly 28 hours to fully recover my vision.

Aerodynamically, I’ve experienced some buffet and controllability challenges. Probably the most difficult part was to keep the power in, thus trading my vision and breathing for kinetic energy. Although due to all the noise it was difficult to hear what my coach was saying on the radio, one thing I’ve heard loud and clear “just keep flying.”

If you are a pilot watching this, I hope that my story serves as a cautionary tale and that you will learn from my mistake. I regret that it took me so long to share this video footage. It’s not easy to put my vulnerabilities out there for you all to see.

However, I have come to realize how important it is to be transparent about our shortcomings and the lessons we learn along the way. To all my fellow pilots out there, fly safe.

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