SIR Elton John was caught in a terrifying mid-air drama when his private jet suffered hydraulic failure at 10,000ft.
The plane twice aborted landing on a day winds hit 80mph. Fire crews raced to Farnborough Airport, Hants.
A witness said: “The jet was being buffeted and couldn’t land. It was horrible to see.”
The superstar singer, 74, was shaken by the ordeal — but hours later caught another flight to the US in time for a gig last night.
His nail-biting drama began shortly after the £66million jet left the airport, for New York at 10.20am.
About an hour into the trip the aircraft suffered hydraulic failure at 10,000ft and the pilot had to make a U-turn while approaching the coast of southern Ireland.
He headed back to Farnborough and radioed air traffic control to declare an emergency landing.
Ambulance crews and police were alerted at 11.19am. Firefighters from six stations raced to the scene and the runway was cleared.
Most read in Celebrity
Screaming Trees lead singer and grunge legend dies aged 57 as fans pay tribute
Alan Carr reveals he is secretly related to a huge ITV star
How SBTV creator Jamal Edwards died at the age of 31
Vicky Pattison looks incredible in black bikini as she sunbathes by the pool
Plumber Philip Thomson was working when the I’m Still Standing star’s jet, adorned with a huge “E”, loomed into view — on the day Storm Franklin’s fierce winds battered the country.
The airport fell silent as word got around the twin-jet Bombardier Global Express was in trouble.
Mr Thomson said of Monday’s drama: “The terrible weather and epic gusts made it almost impossible to land. Two attempts to touch down failed.
“The plane was being buffeted and couldn’t make it. The aircraft’s nose was far too vertical. The plane was descending and was halfway along the runway when it gave up trying to hit the tarmac. It soared back in the air.
“A crowd had gathered after word went around that Elton was in difficulty. And as the plane came around again for a second attempt to land, the storm was doing its worst.
“The airport’s windsock was horizontal and the aircraft was being rocked from side to side by the wind.
“The pilot made a valiant attempt to get down with the jet ‘crabbing’ into the storm. But it didn’t make it and had to head back upwards.
“It was only at the third attempt to land that the plane got down. The pilot made a flatter approach and the wind had dropped slightly. Everyone watching was mightily relieved.”
Dad-of-two Mr Thomson, of Bracknell, Berks, added: “It was a horrible thing to see, and you wouldn’t have swapped places with Elton on that small plane for anything. I bet he said a few prayers of thanks.”
Rocket Man Sir Elton was heading to New York to perform at Madison Square Garden as part of his global Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour.
The star was so determined not to upset fans he put the harrowing ordeal behind him and caught a later flight to reach the US in time for last night’s gig.
'ELTON WAS SHAKEN'
A source said: “It was a white-knuckle ride and Elton was shaken. But he put aside any personal anguish to get back on a plane. For Elton, quite literally, the show must go on.”
Nine days earlier, dad-of-two Sir Elton was pictured enjoying a jaunt to Gstaad, Switzerland.
He and husband David Furnish, 59, tucked into lunch and browsed shops in the Alpine resort.
The duo had flown from Farnborough to Swiss capital Bern on the same jet.
Mr Thomson, who was carrying out maintenance at the airport on Monday before watching the drama unfold, added: “I knew it must have been a work commitment in New York for Sir Elton to try to fly across the Atlantic in a private plane in a storm.
“But he wouldn’t have expected the jet to suffer a technical problem. It was so serious that I counted at least six fire engines that attended, along with the airport’s own incident team. The police and ambulance services were there, too.”
In 2019, a similar Bombardier Global 5000 jet belonging to the German government had problems landing in Berlin following a malfunction shortly after take-off.
Sir Elton is regularly seen boarding and disembarking his plane after criss-crossing the globe.
The music star touched down in Auckland and Adelaide as part of his global tour before the Covid pandemic struck.
And he threw a strop after landing at Sydney on the jet in 2019. He threw a £3,500 Gucci handbag out of the door before stomping to an Audi Q7 parked on the runway.
Sir Elton’s final world tour was announced in 2018 and was set to end in December 2020. But Covid meant dozens of shows had to be postponed.
Last September, the star had hip surgery after a nasty fall on holiday left him in “considerable pain and discomfort”.
He said at the time: “I’ve been advised to have an operation as soon as possible to get me back to full fitness.”
He also announced he was moving the UK and European legs of the tour to 2023. Last month, Sir Elton returned to the US and was seen gingerly exiting his jet in Atlanta.
A positive Covid test forced him to cancel tour dates in Dallas on January 25 and 26. But earlier this month, he performed a concert in Chicago.
His return to the road — combined with the Oscars moving from February to March 27 — means he will miss his Hollywood party this year.
Sir Elton has hosted an annual bash on Academy Awards night for the past 30 years to raise money for his Aids Foundation. He will be absent this year — although hubby David is expected to take over as host.
Last night, Hampshire & Isle of Wight Fire & Rescue Service said of the private jet drama: “Firefighters from Rushmoor, Hartley Wintney, Basingstoke, Fleet, Yateley and Surrey FRS were called at 11.16 on Monday morning to an incident at Farnborough Airport.
“No action was taken by HIWFRS with the incident dealt with by the airport fire service.”
Farnborough Airport declined to comment on the emergency. Sir Elton’s representatives did not comment.
A deluxe way to fly
SIR Elton John’s Bombardier BD-700 Global Express is a twin-engined jet popular with multi-millionaires.
It can carry a maximum of 19 passengers and up to three crew.
The sleek and spacious interior includes leather sofas and beds, with flat-screen TVs and state-of-the-art sound systems.
There are two toilets and a shower, while the cabin has 27 windows and a “100 per cent fresh-air system”.
US TV chat show star Oprah Winfrey is among the A-listers to own one.
The plane is produced by Canadian manufacturer Bombardier Aerospace and is powered by two BMW Rolls-Royce turbofan engines.
Its top speed is 590mph and a range of 7,200 miles means it does not need to refuel more than once on a flight. Direct routes include London to New York.
Source: Read Full Article