Fascinating True Stories From the Flip Side of History

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Sucked into Jet Engine

(This story was originally written and recorded for Podcast #68, released on December 1, 2013.)

One man who had luck on his side was 19-year-old Royal Canadian Air Force radio technician Al Richards who, on December 1, 1951, was literally sucked out of his boots at what was then Renfrew Airport in Glasgow, Scotland.

At the time, Richards had been standing underneath the jet engine of a Sabre fighter checking its radio—nothing out of his ordinary routine.  When break time came, he ran alongside the plane and…

Well, he’s not exactly sure what happened next.

He guesses that he slipped on the tarmac.  Richard’s boots stood straight up about five feet from the engine, but he was gone.

The pilot felt the thump of Richards’ body being sucked into the engine and immediately throttled back.  Richards was pulled out before the engine had stopped spinning.  He was unconscious.  His raincoat and hat had been ripped right off his body and his uniform was shredded to pieces.  

He was taken to nearby Southern General Hospital and given a thorough examination.  120 x-rays were taken, but his injuries were minor.  Richards had two torn ligaments in his right leg, two black eyes, some cuts and bruises, and one big smile on his face in all of the press photos taken of him.

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