Humberside Airport emergency landing pilot dies

Passenger John Wildey: "I hadn't a clue what to do to get down"

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A pilot who fell ill at the controls of his plane forcing his passenger to land the light aircraft has died, police have said.

The man collapsed in the cockpit of the plane after taking off, leaving the "inexperienced" passenger to make an emergency landing.

The plane landed at Humberside Airport under the guidance of instructors called in by air traffic controllers.

Police said they were unable to confirm the cause of death.

A spokesman for Humberside Police said: "A post mortem is to be undertaken following the sad death of the pilot of a light aircraft which landed safely at Humberside Airport yesterday evening.

"The post mortem is likely to take place tomorrow afternoon. The results of the examination will determine whether it is necessary to prepare a file for reference to the coroner."

Plane at Humberside Airport The plane was landed at Humberside Airport by a passenger under the guidance of two flying instructors

He added the death was not being treated as suspicious and said: "In accordance with the wishes of the family of the deceased, police will not be confirming the identity of the pilot nor releasing any video footage of the incident."

Police, fire and ambulance crews were called to the North Lincolnshire airport after a distress call was made from the light aircraft at about 18:25 BST.

Eyewitness saw sparks

Two flying instructors were called in to advise the passenger, named only as "John", on how to bring the plane down and a RAF Sea King helicopter was scrambled to provide assistance.

Start Quote

The man is nothing short of a hero”

End Quote Richard Tomlinson Friend of the pilot and passenger

One of them, Roy Murray, said: "I think without any sort of talk-down he would have just gone into the ground and that would have been the end of it."

The passenger and pilot were the only people on board the Cessna 172 aircraft, which had taken off from Sandtoft Airfield 25 miles (40km) away.

It is believed the two men had flown to Skegness and were returning to Sandtoft when the pilot collapsed.

Speaking at a press conference earlier, Mr Murray said the novice flyer did four circuits of the airport before landing at about 19:30.

He said: "The gentleman was called John, that's all I knew.

Deborah Zost, operations director at Humberside Airport, describes what happened

"We had to get him to do two to three circuits. The last one was not very good so we told him to go round again and on the fourth one he managed it.

"He did a beautiful landing in my opinion.

"He was calm. He was answering the calls I made to him quite professionally.

"I would not be frightened to fly with him."

Eyewitnesses described seeing sparks as the plane landed.

Stuart Sykes, who saw the aircraft land, said: "It came down with a bump, a bump, a bump, hit the front end down, I heard some crashing and it's come to a halt."

Two incoming flights were delayed while the aircraft was removed from the runway.

'Nothing short of phenomenal'

Richard Tomlinson, a friend of the pilot and his passenger, told BBC Radio Sheffield the passenger was "nothing short of a hero".

Flying instructor Roy Murray describing what he said to the passenger

He said: "For somebody who is not a pilot but has been around airfields and been a passenger on several occasions to take control is nothing short of phenomenal.

"The man is nothing short of a hero."

Mr Tomlinson, himself an amateur pilot, said of the man who died: was a "very experienced pilot".

He added: "He had been flying for many years.

"Only this week I was sat having a cup of tea and airfield banter [with both men].

"They were both very funny gentlemen to have a conversation with.

"It is very, very sad news."

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