Flying a plane is no easy feat. I know that in today’s technologically-driven world, a lot of people assume that pilots don’t really do much; they believe that the plane flies itself. But this is simply not true. Pilots command the plane from departure to arrival, period. Pilots must always be aware of the current situation and their surroundings in the event of a disaster. When a pilot is diligent and skilled, he or she can avoid some of the most cataclysmic events. For example, Alexander Akopov, a pilot for Atlas Global, was in a similar situation and, because of his quick-wit, talent and calm under pressure, was able to save the lives of 127 passengers.


Akopov was flying an Airbus A320 from Istanbul to Ekran, Cyprus. It was a normal day like any other. The flight, which had just taken off, was going according to plan until the plane was caught in the middle of a hectic hailstorm. Large hailstones began to batter the plane, causing the windshield to crack, rendering the pilots “blind.” As a pilot, this is probably one of the worst possible incidents that can occur.


Luckily, Akopov used his 30 years of experience to land the plane successfully, saving all 127 passengers on board. Akopov was then awarded Ukraine’s Order for Courage.


While it is great news that Akopov was able to land the plane safely, it must also be noted that pilots are trained for situations such as these. If a pilot’s vision is obscured, he or she is prepared to make an “instrument landing,” in which a pilot must use the plane’s technology and instruments to make a safe touchdown. That is a major component of the huge responsibility that comes with being a pilot.


Aviation has gotten smarter and safer, but every now and then, there are unforeseen accidents that put people’s lives at stake. Even with all of the new and sophisticated technology that airplanes are equipped with, it is the wisdom and instinct of a pilot that will get you safely on the ground.