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Last Updated: Friday, 18 January 2008, 14:26 GMT
Plane passengers 'touched by God'
Crashed Boeing 777
Mr Spalton saw the aircraft crash land short of the runway
David Spalton, 22, a flight dispatcher and plane enthusiast, was taking photographs of aircraft coming into Heathrow Airport when a British Airways plane crash-landed.

My girlfriend had an interview with British Airways.

I'd gone with her and I took my camera with me so I could take pictures of the flights coming in while I waited.

I saw the aircraft coming in. I was standing about 100ft (30.4m) from where the plane came down, on the road which runs around the airport.

Its nose was quite high and its tail was quite low in comparison to the other aircraft that had come in.

It came further and further down - it was very, very low.

When he hit the grass the pilot managed to belly flop it on the ground

I've heard reports since which said it was about 10ft above the perimeter fence and I could definitely vouch for that.

My first thought was just 'Jesus'. This is the first time I have ever seen something like this happen.

I could see a few seconds before it landed that the plane was in drastic trouble. It was just the angle it came in at.

He was very low, and when he hit the grass the pilot managed to belly flop it on the ground.

There is no doubt in my mind that this is how the aircraft managed to stay in one piece. The landing gear ripped off and it made a very dull thud.

I have no doubt that if the tail had hit the ground first, or if it had been any lower and hit the perimeter fence, there would have been some fatalities.

Everyone on that plane was touched by God. It was very skilful work by the captain - he did a textbook crash land.

I took pictures of it as it hit the ground, and as soon as it touched down I was running towards it to get more pictures. I couldn't believe what was happening.

The fire brigade was there within a minute and the passengers were ushered off.

They did seem quite calm considering what had happened.

I've passed all my photographs to the air accident investigators - because I work in the industry I know that the first few days are critical to their inquiries.


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