Red 6 squadron leader Gregor Ogston, had to abandon the Rhyl Air Show mid-routine on August 28 when a seagull flew into the jet’s canopy. He told how he had to close his eyes and duck while travelling at 400mph towards another aircraft, reports Lincolnshire Live.
He told BBC Radio Lincolnshire: “It was quite an eventful day.
“We were about halfway through the show and just starting the more dynamic second half of the display.
“I was running down the display line at 100ft, going around 400mph pointing at Red 7, when out the corner of my eye I saw a seagull in my peripheral vision.
“I closed my eyes and ducked at that point because it was so close and the bird hit the canopy, which unfortunately shattered. The bird and lots of the canopy then flew into the cockpit.
“The impact happened about two seconds before we actually crossed in the middle of the display.
“I was almost flying blind briefly for a couple of seconds and thankfully, with complete trust in Red 7 coming the other way who’s job it is to avoid me, the aircraft whizzed past my left wing as my canopy shattered around me.”
Ogston, who is in his fourth season with the Reds, revealed that he had to fly with his knees briefly in order to communicate with air traffic control about what had happened.
He added: “I’d liken it to driving down the motorway at 70mph with all your windows fully open – imagine doing that at 400mph, the noise was just phenomenal.
“The real difficulty was talking on the radio and communicating what had happened with air traffic control.
“My mask ripped from my face and was broken so to transmit on the radio I had to use my left hand to push the button to transmit, my right hand to hold the mask to my face, and that left me flying the aircraft with my knees briefly.”
The skilled pilot, who grew up in Aberdeenshire, admitted that “the initial impact was quite disorientating” after the bird and debris struck him in the head.
He said: “It did give me a bit of a glancing blow on the right hand side of my head as it came in along with a lot of the Perspex from the canopy.
“The visor incredibly took all that impact and remained in tact and the helmet, albeit cracked now, took all the impact too so I was able to maintain consciousness and fly the aircraft away safely.”
Ogston said he was already “looking forward to getting back” as the Red Arrows make their way to the Bournemouth Air Show this weekend.
The pilot was grateful for all the support he received following the incident.
He added: “I just want to say thanks so much for all the messages on Twitter, Instagram and emails wishing me well. It really does mean a lot and I can’t thank people enough.”