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Friday, 29 December, 2000, 12:10 GMT
Passengers recount mid-air terror
BA Boeing 747
Ben Goldsmith: "Every single person was absolutely terrified"
Many of the 379 passengers bound for Kenya thought they were going to die when the British Airways plane began lurching through the sky.

Most of them had been sleeping and had no idea a man had broken into the flight deck and was wrestling with the crew to seize control of the Boeing 747.

Passenger Zoe McNaughton,19, from Kent, said: "Stuff was flying around we thought the plane was going to fall."

She was jolted awake as the plane began lurching after the auto-pilot was temporarily disengaged.


The lights went out and the oxygen masks came down

Benjamin Goldsmith, passenger
Fellow passenger Todd Angstrom, from Portland, in Oregon, was travelling with his family.

"When the pilot came on the Tannoy he was breathless. He said that a madman had tried to take control of the plane and crash it."

Mr Angstrom said the man was led away in handcuffs. "He looked tall and pretty strong to me," he said.

Benjamin Goldsmith told how people were screaming as the plane dropped.

"Suddenly the plane went into this violent, violent dive, like shuddering, and went very, very steeply downwards and everyone was woken up by the screaming of grown men. It was quite a violent situation.

"The lights went out and the oxygen masks came down and the plane sort of regained control after what must have been about 20 or 30 seconds.

"The pilot came straight on to the loudspeaker and said `A very nasty man just tried to kill us all'. I don't think there was a single person on that airplane that didn't believe we were about to crash."

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