Fuelling the Modern Man

Watch the pant-sh*tting moment a pilot is nearly decapitated in an accident

Thom Richard nearly had his head taken off at the National Championship Air Race in Nevada

Alex Mott
Published 22nd September 2016

When was the last time you cheated death?

Have you ever stepped out in front of a bus only to dodge the icy grip of the Grim Reaper, Final Destination style?

If you have indeed had your own brush with death, we’re betting it wasn’t as arse-clenchingly close as this stunt pilot’s.

Thom Richard almost had the top of his head taken clean off by the wing of a speeding plane while sitting stationary in his own aircraft…and he captured the whole thing on his cockpit camera.

The seasoned pilot was competing in the National Championship Air Race in Reno, Nevada, when the freak incident happened.


Thom took the decision to shut down his engine just 20 seconds before the start after it did not appear to be running ‘well enough for flight’.

He alerted the starters to halt the race and the flagman signalled an ‘X’ to let the other pilots known.

Thom then opened his cockpit canopy to make it clear he was out of the race.


That’s when shit got real.

Thom described on his Facebook seeing the flagman then running across the runway waving his flag to show something was wrong. That’s when he saw planes whizzing past and taking off to his left and right.

Seconds later you can see a plane on the grid coming tearing up behind him on the video.


The wing of the plane just missed the top of his head by inches, striking the top of his aircraft and his hand, which was holding open the canopy.

“The impact was violent and loud,’ he wrote on his Facebook page. “His left leading edge shaved off the top several inches from my vertical and skimmed the turtle-deck without touching until it impacted my right hand holding up the canopy, at well over sixty miles an hour.

“The impact spun me around nearly 180º, like a teacup ride at warp eight.”

Despite being inches from death, Thom was amazingly chilled about the whole thing.

“I’m not the slightest bit upset over the accident. I, in fact, consider myself a very lucky man. Another four feet to the left and I would have been minced meat.

“Literally dodging a bullet. A busted up hand is a small price to pay. I’ll take it. It’ll heal.”

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