October 27, 2016

Air passengers ‘terrified’ as Storm Katie batters UK

Scaffolding that collapsed following strong winds in Woodley Reading @NinoAuricchio

Air passengers were left sick and in tears as their flights were battered by Storm Katie packing winds of more than 100mph, the Press Association reported on Monday.

Travellers told the news agency how they were left “terrified” and fearing for their safety as planes, hit by powerful winds, aborted landings at the last minute.

More than 100 flights in and out of Gatwick and Heathrow were cancelled or diverted because of the bad weather.

Storm Katie brought gale force winds and heavy rain to large parts of southern and central England, causing travel misery to those returning from Easter breaks.

Dan Prance branded his trip back from Budapest the “worst flight of my life” and said passengers were so relieved when they finally touched down that many burst into tears.

He told the Press Association: “When we approached into Gatwick from Budapest the plane was dropping suddenly and swinging left to right. You could see from the windows there was a massive storm happening outside, the wind and rain was smashing against the glass.

“We got closer to the ground at Gatwick until the captain suddenly aborted the landing and we went shooting back up into the sky to attempt again.

“The captain came on the PA system and explained that the winds were way too strong for this kind of plane to land and he had to abort the landing at the last moment for safety. It was absolutely terrifying.”

He said the plane circled for “a further bumpy hour” as air traffic control tried to find space at Stansted for them. They were eventually diverted to Birmingham.

Prance, who works in TV, said: “People then began being ill and sick.

We eventually landed complete with a full round of applause and people crying and then discovered that we had in fact touched down in Birmingham, using Google maps.

“It appeared that the captain and crew were reluctant to tell us we were in Birmingham, and repeatedly told us not to use our phones until the captain had made an announcement.

“The whole ordeal was horrendous. I’ve flown quite a lot and never had anything like it.”

Giulia Cortigiano, 28, an office manager, said told PA her flight from Bangkok only touched down at Gatwick on the second attempt after being hit by strong winds.

She said: “It was really, really windy. The pilot tried to land but as soon as it got close to the ground it was so strong he couldn’t land. I was terrified.

“People were panicking, somebody was sick. You are sitting there, panicking, and when you hear someone be sick you just think ‘Oh my God’.”

The pilot managed the landing on the second attempt and the relieved passengers burst into a round of applause, she said.

“You get to Gatwick and all you want to do is get the train home. But the trains were delayed so it took me four hours to get to Peckham in south London.”

Around 100,000 homes were hit by power cuts while railway passengers returning home after the long Easter weekend endured delays.

Cranes collapsed, trees were blown over and trampolines upended as Storm Katie swept over Britain.

A Gatwick Airport spokeswoman said 26 flights had been cancelled and 23 diverted, while Heathrow cancelled 61 flights and another 20 were diverted due to “adverse weather”.

The Met Office warned that flooding is expected across the South West and issued 136 flood alerts across the country.

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