Flight drama passenger relives moment he was forced to land plane

Passenger John Wildey
Passenger John Wildey

A passenger from Doncaster 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, aged 77, who lives in Rossington, 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. He needed several attempts before finally touching down in the dark.

“I’ve never flown a plane before. 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.