Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Cool Passenger Lands Plane after Pilot's Death

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Cool Passenger Lands Plane after Pilot's Death

Article excerpt

Byline: Dave Higgens and Nathan Paull

APASSENGER who was forced to crash land a plane after the pilot was taken ill said he thought he was going to run into a wall as he struggled to reach the brakes to stop the aircraft.

John Wildey landed the plane at Humberside Airport, near Grimsby, north Lincolnshire after being talked through it by a flight instructor.

The pilot, who has since died, had collapsed in the cockpit and Mr Wildey - who had never even flown an aircraft before - was left to ground the Cessna 172.

Mr Wildey required several attempts before finally touching down in the dark - with no lights.

"I've never flown a plane before," he said.

"Now I know you bring back the controls, but I didn't bring them back hard enough, so really I was just sort of nose down rather than anything else.

"We touched and then there was a right bump - two or three bumps.

"I suppose it was a controlled crash really and then I just couldn't get the brakes because I couldn't reach them."

Mr Wildey said he began to veer off the runway as he was attempting to reach the brakes and could see a wall rapidly approaching.

"I thought 'I ain't going to do it', but we managed to stop in the end," he said.

The aircraft was heading back to its base at Sandtoft airfield, near Doncaster, South Yorkshire, at about 6.20pm on Tuesday night when the mayday call came through.

Flight instructor Roy Murray, who guided Mr Wildey through the manoeuvre , said he made a "beautiful landing".

"I wouldn't be frightened to fly with him."

Mr Murray, who has more than 30 years of flying experience, said: "I feel satisfied but sad. It could have been a lot worse."

Mr Murray, who is chief instructor at the Frank Morgan School of Flying, said he had never heard of an incident like this in the UK.

"I took him round three times," the instructor said, "which were reasonable but not good enough to land. …

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