AN RAF pilot saved a York village from possible disaster after his plane’s engine failed.

Flight Lieutenant Jon Dunn and his student pilot could have ejected and parachuted to safety but instead battled to bring the stricken Tucano down in a glide to Rufforth airfield.

Ft Lt Dunn, of 207 Squadron, based at RAF Linton-on-Ouse, knew that if he and the student ejected, their aircraft would crash on Rufforth.

He took the decision to try to land the plane and has now received a Green Endorsement – one of the RAF’s highest accolades – for safely landing his Tucano aircraft.

The drama happened last September when Flt Lt Dunn, then a junior flying instructor, was tasked with a routine training sortie.

Shortly after take-off, and in poor weather, he noticed a problem with his engine’s fuel flow.

Having confirmed that the student had not changed the throttle setting, he took control as the power continued to fall.

He attempted to turn his aircraft back to Linton, but it was losing height rapidly.

Flt Lt Dunn says he had no option but to declare a mayday.

He said: “I realised we wouldn’t make it back to Linton and faced with the prospect of ejecting, I carried out the emergency drill hoping instead to glide the aircraft to a forced landing.

“We broke through cloud at 2,500 feet and both of us looked for somewhere flat and uninhabited on which to land. From the corner of my eye I spotted Rufforth airfield and turned towards it.

“I then made what may seem an unusual decision; to shut down the engine.

“By then it was doing more harm than good and I knew that by closing it down, the aircraft would act more predictably in its final descent – as well as increasing the gliding range.

“At about 700 feet, in the final stages of the approach, I thought we were not going to make it. The safer option would have been for me to eject us both, but the aircraft would have crashed onto Rufforth village, so we had to stay with it and I continued to fly the aircraft to the best of my ability, hoping the situation would improve.”

Flt Lt Dunn remained calm throughout the emergency, keeping his student reassured at all times. On landing at Rufforth he had no choice but to apply the brakes hard, due to the short runway. The tyres burst, but the aircraft came safely to a halt.

Now Flt Lt Dunn’s endeavours have been officially recognised. The Green Endorsement citation describes his actions that day as an “instance of exceptional flying skill and judgement”.

It goes on to read: “Flt Lt Dunn showed great presence of mind. He displayed captaincy, airmanship and handling skills well above that of his probationary instructor category. He also minimised any potentially very serious collateral damage and saved a valuable aircraft.”

Ft Lt Dunn said modestly: “I think it is much better to be lucky than good.”