Hero passenger is guest of honour at Humberside Airport hotel opening

By Scunthorpe Telegraph | Posted: 11 Aug 2017

THE passenger who bravely landed the light aircraft in which his pilot pal passed away at the controls has been honoured underneath the skies where the drama played out.

John Wildey, who had never flown an aircraft before, managed to land the four-seater Cessna with guidance from the ground, in an hour-long ordeal.

A conference room at the Hampton by Hilton Humberside Airport Hotel will now be named after him, as well as pioneering Hull aviator Amy Johnson CBE.

Nearly four years on from the incident, which spawned a television documentary, he was invited back to Kirmington to cut the ribbon on the 100-room hotel as it was officially opened.

The shy 81-year-old Londoner, who had taken a flight with friend Morris Wilson from Sandtoft that afternoon, said: “I feel really honoured.

“When they told me they were naming a room after me I thought it would be the gents! I thought of all the other famous people it could be. I am a bit of a shy person really, that’s why I laugh and joke, but it is a real honour.”

It was 6.20pm on October 8, 2013 when the drama unfolded. Mr Morris managed to make a mayday alert before collapsing, and a rapid response from the ground team at Humberside brought emergency services together with RAF Search and Rescue, and – critically – Roy Murray from the The Frank Morgan School Of Flying.

He was subsequently made Flying Instructor Of The Year by the Aircraft Owners And Pilots Association after successfully talking John down, coaching him through a safe landing at the fourth pass as darkness descended.

TERRA FIRMA: The Cessna the drama unfolded in, back on the ground. 

Sam Teale, general manager, told how local aviation links had been desired when they set about naming the business facilities, which complement the fitness suite and large lounge and bar area.

As part of a strong season of celebrations marking 75 years since Johnson's death, the hotel had 'A Moth For Amy' an art installation commemoration generated from her world record solo flight in a Tiger Moth back in 1930 - but, due to a delayed opening, it had not been able to display it, so they decided on the room.

Born in the city in 1903, Johnson was the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia and set a string of other records throughout her career. 

FIRST RETURN: Mr Wildey came back to the Humber region the August following the drama to meet the RAF crew who helped guide him in to Humberside Airport.

For John, who couldn't have had more different circumstances when getting behind the controls, but did subsequently have a few lessons, Mr Teale said: “We were Googling the area and the news report came up top on the searches. We decided to name it after him, then asked him to cut the ribbon too.”

Owned and developed by Nightel, Leaf Hospitality is operating the hotel under the Hampton by Hilton franchise.

“It is amazing to be finally here,” said Mr Teale. “We have a great team, a great product, and we have been well supported by Humberside Airport. It is a really good relationship.”

As the celebrations to officially open the £8 million investment were held, crews from Eastern Airways were checking in, underlining the connection.

“We have been very busy, everything is looking so positive,” he said.

A bar and grill, to be operated separately, is anticipated to open before the end of the year.

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