Terror as Israel jet blown off course

By Jonathan Kalmus, November 18, 2010

Airline passengers flying from Israel to Britain fainted when the pilot twice failed to land in gale-force winds.

The pilot of the Jet2 flight to Manchester struggled against winds of up to 80mph to wrestle the plane to within seconds of landing.

But he was forced to divert to East Midlands Airport, near Leicester, 80 miles away.

Many shaken and nauseous passengers chose to take taxis, costing up to £200, rather than the coaches provided by the airline to get home.

Jet2's flight LS908 had already been grounded at Tel Aviv for three hours over a technical fault and made an unscheduled diversion to Amsterdam because of regulations governing the length of pilot shifts.

But passengers said they were grateful to be safe, despite landing six hours late.

Israeli-born mother of two Brachi Hassell, from Prestwich, said the plane shook so badly during the landing attempts that she thought it had hit the ground with a huge thud, only to discover it was still airborne and recovering from an airpocket.

"People were crying. Parents were grabbing their kids for dear life. Older people needed assistance at the end of the flight because they couldn't move.

"People were throwing up all over the plane, you could hear an echo of vomiting from the front to the back.

"I was hyperventilating because it was really scary. A Christian couple sitting next to me were helping me but when we finally landed the wife tried to stand up and then she just collapsed."

Avril Gatoff, 53, also from Prestwich, said: "Seeing the wings wobbling and seeing they were not straight with the ground as we came into land, I became so scared.

"But I felt the pilot was in control. It was my first trip with Jet2 and the staff were helpful and kept us informed."

A spokesman for Jet2 said: "The key thing was to make a lot of effort to get people back as swiftly and effective as possible.

A Manchester Airport spokesman said the continuing gales meant a further two flights were diverted to Luton Airport while two others managed safe landings.

Last updated: 3:41pm, November 18 2010