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A pilot’s close call: Luca Parmitano’s scary flight adventure

On July 9, 2013 +European Space Agency, ESA astronaut +Luca Parmitano became the first Italian to perform a spacewalk. His second one was terminated early today due to a worrying water leak in his helmet.

Space is indeed a dangerous and unforgiving environment, but Luca is used to such risks due to his background as a military test pilot in the Italian Air Force. To celebrate his spacewalking achievements, coolness, and right stuff, here is a little known hair-rising flying adventure he experienced before joining ESA.

On May 11, 2005 Luca, who had the rank of Captain back then, had a bird strike when flying an AMX military jet over the Channel on a training mission. The big bird, a stork, shuttered a layer and part of the frame of the cockpit’s glass canpoy, destroying the head-up display.

Despite the much reduced visibility, and the virtually unusable radio due to the high noise of air flowing through the broken canopy, he didn’t eject and brought the plane to the base with the assistance of the other plane flying in formation with him. He landed safely, and was later awarded a silver medal. Here is the official Italian Air Force motivation for the medal (in Italian, Google Translate doesn’t do a good job):

The medal’s ribbon is the blue one with a silver star and thin vertical red bands, the leftmost one above his left chest pocket in this photo of Luca’s Air Force Major uniform. Photo credit: Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center

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The cause of the water leak is still unknown, isn't it? 
The cause of the water leak is still unknown, there will be a press briefind later today.
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