| 11.1°C Dublin

Hero British Airways pilot Chris Henkey says he feels like a 'Hollywood star'


The BA plane which caught fire in Vegas.

The BA plane which caught fire in Vegas.


The BA plane which caught fire in Vegas.

The British Airways pilot who saved 169 lives when he safely evacuated a plane that burst into flames shortly before take-off has said he feels like a “Hollywood star”.

Chris Henkey, 63, was praised for bringing the jet to a stop at 90mph as a massive fire consumed one of the engines. Everyone was evacuated safely.

The captain was on his penultimate flight before retiring after 42 years when he aborted the British Airways Boeing 777’s take-off in Las Vegas.

And now he says he feels like a celebrity, as everyone in his village knows what happened and he has even been nominated for the Pride of Reading award.

Speaking to the Sun newspaper, he said: "I have come home to fan mail and people shaking my hand and buying me pints. I can't believe all the attention.

"To be honest, the way I acted just came naturally.

"We are trained to deal with problems in simulators and the rest of the crew were extremely well experienced.

"It went so fast that I didn't really have any time to think about what I was doing. It was over in four minutes.

"I felt immense calm and I did what I was trained to do - the whole crew did the same.

"It isn't how I thought my last days flying would be like.

"After the evacuation we were taken into a room and had to give accounts of what happened.

"And then I went and spoke to the passengers. I said, 'Thank you for acting so calmly'.

"Everyone on that plane is to thank for the fact that no one was hurt. It was incredible."

Mr Henkey, who is the fifteenth most experienced of BA's 3,500 fliers, is now looking forward to retirement with his fiancée Lenka Nevolna, 40, who last week hailed him as "a great man and a hero".

The blaze started in the left-side General Electric engine as Mr Henkey's jet attempted to take off in Vegas on September 8.

Fourteen passengers suffered minor injuries as they fled the plane in what was described as a “textbook evacuation”.

Mr Henkey said: "I have always loved my job - it has been a very big part of my life.

"I was upset to be retiring before, yet I was looking forward to relaxing and going on walks. But retirement has got off to a very hectic start now.

"Everyone in the village knows about what happened and I will always be known for that now. Of course, it is a good thing to be known for but I don't want to get all of the praise when I only had a fraction of a role in a much bigger picture.

"I want to start getting back to normal. I am off on another holiday that we had booked to celebrate retirement so maybe I can relax then.

"I have been getting lots of calls to go on TV and I have been nominated for the Pride of Reading award, which is extremely flattering."

Online Editors