Salesman describes scary emergency landing at GatwickBy Becky Barnes
April 19, 2012
A computer salesman from Bracknell was among passengers on a plane forced to make an emergency landing at Gatwick on Monday.
Mark Bell, of Ludlow, was due to travel to Orlando on business, but was left stuck in the airport for 16 hours after smoke in the cabin meant the plane had to return to Gatwick before it was evacuated, using the emergency chutes.
His brother Paul Bell, of Tebbit Close, said that Mark was one of the first off the Virgin Atlantic Airbus A330 and he saw people crashing into one another as they exited.
More than 300 passengers and crew were forced to make an emergency exit through chutes, with 15 needing hospital treatment after flight VS27 landed 15 minutes after it took off.
Paul said: “We were out at the time but my mum got a text describing what had happened.
“He told us to listen out on the radio as he had been interviewed, but not to worry.
“He said it was not made clear by the cabin crew what was happening and there was a sense of panic.
“He didn’t actually see the smoke as he was one of the first passengers off.”
Injuries to passengers included broken bones, caused by panic during the evacuation.
Mark was not hurt, but he was left with just his phone and passport as his luggage had gone ahead of him to the USA.
He had to postpone his business meetings and wait for another flight to be arranged for him.
After a 16-hour delay at Gatwick he was put on a replacement flight on Tuesday.
Many passengers decided not to board another flight and returned home, but people who wanted a replacement flight were given one on Tuesday.
The emergency landing meant that all flights were suspended which caused delays to hundreds of flights throughout Monday afternoon. The Air Accidents Investigation Branch is now investigating the incident.