Thursday, August 23, 2012

'I told pilot to fly into this twister'

A leisure flight took a dramatic turn for three men when they came face to face with this twister.

The Cessna 150 aircraft, piloted by Mark Wagner, had taken off from Eaglescott Airfield at Burrington.

On board were passengers Paul Scantlebury, 48, from Merton and Terry Gilbert, 46, from Petrockstowe.

Describing what happened next Paul said: "Everything was fine for a few minutes. North Devon looked incredible from the air but in a second everything changed.

"Terry just screamed to the pilot, 'Look, look. There is a twister like in America."

Paul said the aircraft started shaking violently with all the turbulence and the sky quickly turned black.

He said: "Things got a little frightening.

"I clearly remember Terry screaming at the pilot, 'Head for the middle of the twister, it's the safest place. I saw it in a film.'

"The pilot very calmly said, 'No, no Terry that's wrong. We just have to stay away from it and land back at Eaglescott."

Terry told the Journal: "I was shocked, I couldn't believe it. I took some photographs, but I was getting very worried.

"I told Mark to fly into the twister. I saw it in films, it's supposed to be calmer. I said we should land in a field. I was panicking.

"I thought that was it, my time had come. I was so glad to get out. I thanked Mark for being so calm, he was brilliant. It was frightening. I was probably talking a load of nonsense."

When he got home Terry told his wife Cherie about his ordeal.

He said: "It has put me off flying a bit, but I am sure I will get over it.

"I remembered the American film Twister and I think that is what made me panic."

Pilot Mark Wagner, 48, from Wimbledon, London, has 30 years' flying experience and had earlier attended the annual Lundy fly in.

He said the weather conditions made for an extraordinary flight.

He said: "It was a brilliantly interesting sky. When you see something in the distance you get a feel if it's dangerous. The air was smooth. We skirted around the edge of the twister. The sky was amazingly calm. It was one of the most spectacular evenings of flying I ever had. Even in the morning flying over Exmoor I could see black fingers of cloud.

"These weather conditions are much more interesting than flying in a blue sky. It's beautiful and dramatic. It set the tone for high excitement."

Praising Mark's professionalism Paul said: "I must thank the pilot for his handling of the aircraft and for not putting me off flying."

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