Page last updated at 14:40 GMT, Wednesday, 9 September 2009 15:40 UK

Pilot controls runaway RAF bomber

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YouTube footage of the bomber taking off on airshow runway

A retired pilot has told how he managed to control a bomber which unexpectedly took off during an airshow.

Bob Prothero, from Portsmouth, and his co-pilot were inside the Victor which was meant to speed along the runway before stopping.

But the co-pilot froze and failed to close the throttle meaning it took off.

An investigation into the incident in May at Bruntingthorpe Aerodrome, Leicestershire, decided that no one could be blamed.

The retired group captain, who had last flown the plane 29 years ago, told the BBC that although he was "petrified" there was no time to think during the nine seconds it was airborne.

Footage of the incident, which happened at the Cold War Jets airshow, has been posted on the video-sharing website YouTube showing the aircraft taking off and being blown about by the wind.

Underneath it all there was really too much to do in the nine seconds we were airborne to actually think too much what I was doing
Gp Capt Bob Prothero

Gp Capt Prothero, 70, said: "We set out to do a normal fast run taxi for the public's pleasure, the attempt was to go to 100 knots and then stop.

"In the event I called for 'throttles closed' which closed us down, but the co-pilot froze, the throttles didn't close and the aircraft kept accelerating until it reached flying speed.

"It was a case of what shall I do now, it was quickly instinctive and although I was rather petrified at the time, underneath it all there was really too much to do in the nine seconds we were airborne to actually think too much what I was doing - it was a case of do it."

The retired group captain took control of the 75-tonne aircraft which he managed to bring to a halt. No one was injured.

Gp Capt Bob Prothero
Gp Capt Prothero had last flown the plane 29 years ago

An investigation was launched by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) as neither the pilot or co-pilot were licensed to fly but no legal action was taken.

Investigators found no intention to breach the rules and that the incident occurred because the co-pilot had frozen.

A spokesman added that a new "risk assessment" of the operation of the craft has been launched.

"As as a result, a number of changes have been made to their operating procedures to further enhance the safety of similar events."



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