A PASSENGER who was forced to land a plane after the pilot became ill has thanked the RAF Search and Rescue crew who guided him down, saying "It's hard to believe I actually did all this."
Grandfather John Wildey landed the light aircraft at Humberside Airport after being talked through it by a flight instructor and guided in by a Sea King helicopter from RAF Leconfield, East Yorkshire.
Yesterday, the former RAF clerk met the crew who came to his aid in front of the yellow helicopter that helped him find his way down.
Mr Wildey, 77, said he was glad to see them in the air and get into formation with them. He said: "I'm ex-RAF so I knew I was in good hands.
"It's hard to believe I actually did all this. I always wanted to fly but had never done it except as a passenger, then suddenly doing."
Mr Wildey, of Rossington, South Yorkshire, said he was quite calm as he took the controls because he was concentrating so hard but the stress of the situation hit him when he got back on the ground.
"At that time I was a wibbly-wobbly wreck because it all kicked in once I had stopped. I could hardly walk, my legs were so wobbly.
"I have had two nightmares since about it and the only trouble is that in the nightmares I don't land."
The incident happened last October and Flight Lieutenant Becca Bethell, who was the captain of the Sea King on the night and spoke to Mr Wildey on the radio, said: "He was incredibly relaxed. He was joking with us and rationally chatting to us.
Mr Wildey required several attempts before finally touching down the Cessna 172 in the dark with no lights. The plane had only minor damage to its wheel.
The pilot who collapsed later died.