Tuesday 6 December 2016

Hero pilot will take freedom flights 'until it gets too scary'

Fergus Black

Published 26/02/2011 | 05:00

HE has helped hundreds of desperate people -- among them Irish citizens -- to escape the terror and turmoil of Tripoli.

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It was former Ryanair pilot Guido Fromme (50) who pushed his way through the chaotic scenes at Tripoli airport calling out to Irish, British and European citizens to offer them seats on his freedom flight to Istanbul.

But don't call him a hero.

"Don't mention that," he told the Irish Independent yesterday. "It is better to mention that a guy who has a heart is just doing a job."

A group of Irish teachers who arrived home from the Libyan capital this week sang the praises of the German pilot, who got them on to his flight to Istanbul.

"He's a pretty amazing person," said Lisa Ruane (25) from Castlebar.

She had been teaching at the International School of Martyrs in Tripoli before being forced to flee the capital last week along with many of her Irish friends.

"When we asked him how much money we should give, he said, 'I'm not looking for money, I'm looking to save your lives'."

She told how their group of about 18 passengers lined up behind the pilot and followed him in Pied-Piper fashion through the airport.

"After we were onboard he made an announcement to enjoy our flight. He was just amazing," said Lisa.

Mr Fromme, who yesterday was on standby in Istanbul waiting for clearance to return to Libya, has flown several charter flights for Buraq Air this week, ferrying hundreds of people out of the country.

"When I got my load sheet I told them (authorities) we still had 63 seats free and I wouldn't go with a half-empty aircraft," said Mr Fromme.

He and his co-pilot went into the airport looking for passengers to fill the plane.

While up to 6,000 people milled about inside the airport, he said more than 80,000 others packed the car parks outside, unable to get into the building.

He said he had been in the German Army for several years and knew what he was doing. "When things get too scary then I will stop."

Irish Independent

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