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Hero passenger relives plane landing ordeal

The plane which touched down at Humberside Airport on Tuesday Photo: Calendar

A passenger who was forced to crash land a plane at Humberside Airport after the pilot was taken ill has 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 the airport, near Grimsby, 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.

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.

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".

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.

He said he was called at his home near Grimsby at 6.25pm and went to the tower at the airport, where the decision was taken to use the main runway which was

Mr Murray said the atmosphere in the control tower was tense and there were handshakes but no cheers when the plane touched down.

A full emergency response was put in place by the airport in conjunction with all the services.

An RAF Sea King helicopter from RAF Leconfield was also brought in to help the first-time pilot find the airport and the runway.

The plane is understood to have undergone only minor damage to its wheel, although some witnesses described seeing sparks as the aircraft touched down.

At a press conference, airport commercial director Paul Litten expressed his condolences to the family of the man who died.

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