Oct 25 2012 By Jackie Grant
A Spanish-bound stag party from Dumfries saw the trip turn to terror when thick smoke started filling their plane.
The 737 passenger jet with 189 passengers on board was almost up to take off speed nearing the end of the runway when the brakes were slammed on.
The lights went out as the plane skidded and panic gripped many of the screaming passengers.
Luckily all escaped, mainly down emergency chutes, although 20 were injured, five taken to hospital, in the terrifying incident at Glasgow Airport around 7.40am on Friday.
Barry Gemmell of Blackley Park Road told the Standard he could smell fumes and spotted smoke billowing in through the air conditioning vents in the cabin while the seven lads waited to take off for Alicante.
“There had been a 15 minute delay in the plane leaving because we had to wait for a passenger in a wheelchair to be boarded”, he said. “God knows what would have happened if we’d left on time.”
The 28-year-old nurse added: “The plane got to the end of the runway and its nose was about to go in the air ready for take-off when the brakes suddenly slammed on, the plane skidded and the lights went out. We didn’t have a clue what was happening.
“The pilot started shouting for us to evacuate and the stewards were screaming at us to get off the plane now. A few of the passengers said they could see balls of fire. It was a mad rush to get off the plane and folk were trying to grab their bags. Some people were on the wings but we made it down the inflatable chutes and on to the runway. You could smell the fuel and it was frightening to see the blue lights of the emergency services coming from everywhere.”
Pal Andrew Stewart said “one second later” and the plane could have been in the air.
“If we had left the runway, we could have been in a life or death situation,” he said. “I knew it was serious when the stewards started screaming. What happened has made me wary about flying in future.”
Barry contacted his pregnant partner Sarah Miller at home in Dumfries to tell her what had happened but tried to play the incident down.
“Sarah’s due to give birth on Christmas Day and I kept thinking if anything had happened to me on that plane, she’d never forgive me. When I thought about that, I felt real fear,” he added.
Stag Stuart McCall from Cargenbridge insisted that Barry, Andrew, Chris Miller, Chris Branney, Jamie Hunter and Greg Hawkins get on the next available flight and enjoy their weekend.
Barry, whose band Shock the Showman will be performing their first gig in the Pleuchies Howff this weekend, added: “We were a lot more nervous on the return journey home because we didn’t have the effects of a free bar.
“It was certainly a stag do to remember and will probably be mentioned in the speeches at Stuart’s wedding next month.
“We certainly feel like we had a lucky escape.”