British pilot verses a Devon tornado and a panicked passenger

The Daily Mail recently told the story of how a pleasure flight over the British countryside turned nightmarish with a close encounter with a tornado. Apparently a Cessna 150 had taken off from Eaglescott Airfield at Burrington, Devon, with a London pilot named Mark Wagner (who has more than 30 years of flying experience) at the controls and passengers Paul Scantlebury and Terry Gilbert to enjoy views of the North Devon countryside.

However and within the span of a few minutes, the sky quickly turned black, turbulence started shaking the aircraft violently and a tornado appeared – causing at least one passenger to panic:

He said that Mr Gilbert started shouting instructions at the pilot: ‘I clearly remember Terry screaming "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."

The aircraft was able to safely land but the incident also shows how the weather can quickly change from clear blue skies to something dark and menacing that can cause passengers unaccustomed to flying in a small aircraft to panic. Luckily the experienced pilot visibly kept his cool as the last thing a pilot needs to do is anything that would cause passengers to panic even further.

One of the passengers was able to snap this amazing photo as a souvenir:

This is the moment a pleasure flight turned into a nightmare when the light aircraft flew in to a tornado


6 Responses to British pilot verses a Devon tornado and a panicked passenger

  1. Frank Van Haste August 25, 2012 at 19:37 #

    Sorry, but this story smells a bit odd. How do you get three people into a 150? (Not even to mention wondering how one might be crept up on by an unexpected TORNADO!!)

    • Matthew Stibbe August 26, 2012 at 15:15 #

      Well, it was reported in the Daily Mail which probably explains that!

    • John August 27, 2012 at 16:14 #

      Well, English tornadoes can be rather sneaky compared to those American ones! However, perhaps someone or a few someones may have been pulling the Daily Mail’s leg as well… As we mentioned on Sunday, the pilot told Aviation Week there were no panic attacks or turbulence and that the quotes were “Chinese whispers” amongst those on the ground waiting to fly……..

  2. Danik Thomas August 28, 2012 at 17:06 #

    Umm, three adults in a Cessna 150? No experienced pilot should do such a thing. Better double check the facts on this one.

    • Matthew Stibbe August 29, 2012 at 11:38 #

      It wasn’t me guv, it was the Daily Mail who didn’t do their fact-checking! 🙂


  1. Best of the Web - Golf Hotel Whiskey - August 26, 2012

    […] British aviation. However, one of the mentions involved the incident we wrote about yesterday (British pilot verses a Devon tornado and a panicked passenger). Apparently, the story was exaggerated just a bit by the Daily Mail (Now isn’t that […]

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