RAF Chinook Pilot Takes A Headshot, Still Flies Home To Safety!

In 2010, a British Royal Airforce Chinook, Bravo November, was on service in Afghanistan when pilot Flight Lieutenant Ian Fortune was hit by a ricochet from a bullet fired by Taliban fighters during an extraction of injured soldiers.

A US marines unit together with Afghan National Army soldiers were engaged in a fierce gun battle with the Taliban and they were taking casualties. Six men had been hit and were in need of urgent medical evacuation.

Flight Lieutenant Fortune landed the helicopter in a “hot zone” that was under heavy Taliban fire. After landing the aircraft was hit numerous times. One round ricocheted and hit Fortune’s helmet at the attaching point for the Night Vision Goggles and smashed the visor.

The bullet then went up and went through the skin of the helmet, leaving holes in the visor which saved his life.

Stunned but conscious he stayed in control of the aircraft and continued to rescue his wounded colleagues and land his damaged helicopter safely.

For his actions, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the fourth that was awarded in the history of the aircraft.

On board was a film crew from the Discovery channel, with presenter Edd China famous from Wheeler Dealers, who recorded the entire event.


Joris Nieuwint

Joris Nieuwint is a battlefield guide for the Operation Market Garden area. His primary focus is on the Allied operations from September 17th, 1944 onwards. Having lived in the Market Garden area for 25 years, he has been studying the events for nearly as long. He has a deep understanding of the history and a passion for sharing the stories of the men who are no longer with us.

@joris1944 facebook.com/joris.nieuwint