Cambridgeshire MEP tells how he feared for his life after plane scare

PUBLISHED: 18:08 13 February 2012 | UPDATED: 10:21 14 February 2012

Richard Howiltt inside the Parliament building at Brussels

Richard Howiltt inside the Parliament building at Brussels

CAMBRIDGE-based MEP Richard Howitt has told how he feared for his life after the Czech Airline flight he boarded had to make an emergency landing following a technical problem with the plane’s wing.

Snowy conditions were first blamed by the pilot of the Boeing 737 flight to Skopje airport in Macedonia late on Friday, but it later emerged the there was a problem with the wing.

Mr Howitt said: “At Prague Airport the delay in setting off was put down to the snow at our destination of Skopje.

“Snow again was given as the explanation by the captain for starting to circle rather than land.

“Then came an announcement from the cockpit that flaps had failed on the wing and it would be necessary to make a ‘non-normal’ landing.

“The announcements from the captain first in Czech then English were calm, as he instructed us repeatedly how important it was for us to stay calm.

“He said, ‘After we land, you will be instructed where and how to evacuate the aircraft, and it is essential for your own safety that you follow the instructions exactly’.”

As the passengers adopted the brace position, Mr Howitt said he heard a member of the cabin crew quietly say “pray, pray, pray” to herself as the plane approached the runway at Skopje airport, trying to land without one of the flaps to slow its descent.

Mr Howitt, who was on his way to a conference in the former Yugoslav republic, said: “I fly something like 50 flights a year and nothing like that has ever happened to me before.

“It was absolutely terrifying and I thought it really could be the end, but the airline was brilliant about it.”

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