RAF pilot sent a plane with 187 souls on board nosediving when his camera got jammed in the controls
Flight Lieutenant Andrew Townshend’s Nikon was resting on the arm of his chair and hit a “side stick” when he shifted his seat forward.
The incident sent the Voyager plunging 4,400ft in 29 seconds towards the Black Sea, Bulford Military Court, Wilts, was told.
Co-pilot, Flt Lt Nathan Jones, who was getting a cup of tea at the time, and other passengers were “pinned to the ceiling” by the descent.
The co-pilot struggled back to his seat but got a cut head, fractured back, prolapsed disc and nerve damage, while wrestling with the controls.
Flt Lt Townshend was not concentrating while flying and was bored
Nigel Lickley – Prosecutor
Fourteen others were unable to fly back to the UK because of injuries.
The court martial heard that Townshend, 49, had been “practising longexposure photography on the flight from the UK to Afghanistan in February 2014 when his co-pilot left the cockpit to get a cup of tea.
After the Nikon became jammed it turned off the auto-pilot at 33,000ft.
Townshend denies perjury and making a false record about the incident, but admits being negligent.
Prosecutor Nigel Lickley said: “Flt Lt Townshend was not concentrating while flying and was bored.”
The court heard he lied by blaming a mechanical fault.
The trial continues.