Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Scotland Squad in Mid-Air Drama; Pilot Forced to Abandon Landing before Touch-Down

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Scotland Squad in Mid-Air Drama; Pilot Forced to Abandon Landing before Touch-Down

Article excerpt

Byline: Ronnie Esplin

SUNDERLAND'S Craig Gordon was among the Scotland squad caught up in a mid-air flight drama yesterday.

A jet carrying the squad had to pull out of landing moments before it was due to touch down at Heathrow. It is thought another plane was still on the runway as the British Airways flight carrying the footballers made its final approach.

The plane circled the airport and landed safely 15 minutes later. Nobody was injured in the incident.

Manager George Burley and his team, including Black Cats goalkeeper Gordon, were travelling on BA flight 1479 from Glasgow to Heathrow when the incident happened. They were stopping in London to catch an onward flight to Japan, where they are playing a friendly on Saturday.

Scottish Football Association spokesman Rob Shorthouse, who was on board the plane, said: "We were around 50ft off the ground. The front of the plane was too close to another plane, so we had to lift upwards.

"The players reacted in the same way as everyone else onboard the plane. There was a lot of nervous giggling but everyone is okay."

SFA chief executive Gordon Smith, travelling with the Scotland party, played down the incident.

He said: "We were on our way down and then we took off again. If you were not a frequent flier then it might have been something but it has happened to me before. Indeed, the pilot said, 'I'll have another go at it', and everyone started laughing."

A BAA Heathrow spokesman said the team's plane arrived 15 minutes ahead of schedule, adding the airport had "no record" of the incident.

The squad are due to arrive in Japan at lunchtime today. The trip has been heavily criticised in some quarters, but defender Gary Caldwell sees the positive side of undertaking the 11,000-mile round trip for a friendly in Yokohama.

Burley has had to cobble together a squad after suffering the loss of 10 players since the weekend.

Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher and Tottenham full-back Alan Hutton were the latest withdrawals yesterday, replaced by Norwich's Stephen Hughes and Don Cowie of Watford, both of whom joined the rest of the squad in London for the flight to the Far East. …

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