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  1. ITV Report

Veteran BA pilot hailed as hero of burning plane at Las Vegas airport: Unlikely I'll fly again before retirement

Chris Henkey's quick-thinking potentially saved over 100 lives.

A veteran British Airways pilot hailed a hero for saving the lives of passengers on a burning plane bound for London has said he is unlikely to fly again.

Chris Henkey, 63, from Reading, Berkshire, who has forty years of flying experience with BA, was on his second-to-last flight before retirement when the port-side engine of his Boeing 777-200 burst into flames at Las Vegas Airport on Wednesday.

The plane is seen with its port engine on fire from another aircraft. Credit: Twitter

All 157 passengers and 13 crew members were able to safely evacuate the aircraft after Captain Henkey performed a "hard stop" from take-off speed on the runway.

Speaking to NBC News, Henkey said he is unlikely to make his final flight as a pilot, which would have taken him to Barbados to join his daughter at his favourite holiday destination.

"It's safe to say I'm finished flying," Mr Henkey said.

Passengers flee the smouldering aircraft Credit: Ian Payne

His fiance, Lenka Nevolna, 40, praised the pilot's actions:

He's a hero. He's a great man with a warm heart, and generosity, and I'm very proud of him.

– Lenka Nevolna

She said she was "very shocked" by what had happened and added: "I'm glad that no one's hurt and everything is going to be fine."

Asked if he is always so cool and calm, she said: "Yes, most of the time, and he's loved by everyone, we are very proud of him."

Henkey's ex-wife Marnie told ITV News she was relieved that everyone got off the plane safely.

"He is safe and happy," she said. "I've had some messages from him. He did a bloody good job."

An image of the plane shows the emergency slides used to evacuate. Credit: ericmhays/Twitter

Fire officials said at least 14 people were taken to hospital with minor injuries, mostly caused by sliding down the inflatable chutes to escape.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in the US said four investigators had been sent to examine the aircraft.

BA would not reveal how many Britons were on the plane, although the Las Vegas to Gatwick route is popular with UK leisure travellers.

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