SIr Elton John was caught in a frequent flier’s nightmare when his private jet encountered hydraulic failure at 10,000 feet, and it took his pilot three attempts to bring the plane down in the middle of a storm so powerful it has a name.
The Rocket Man singer was headed to New York to perform a show for his global Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour on Monday morning, when his $75 million Bombardier Global Express jet experienced hydraulic failure.
The aviation error, which can affect the flight controls, brakes, and landing gear, occurred an hour after take off from Farnborough Airport in Ireland. The pilot radioed in a request for an emergency landing, and fire crews from six different stations were dispatched to a cleared runway.
When John’s plane returned to the airport, Storm Franklin, which knocked out power in 29,000 homes, was raging and the first attempt at an emergency landing failed.
“The plane was being buffeted and couldn’t make it. The aircraft’s nose was far too vertical,” witness Philip Thomsan said. “The plane was descending and was halfway along the runway when it gave up trying to hit the tarmac. It soared back in the air.”
The storm’s 80mph winds, equivalent to the speed of a Category 1 hurricane, prevented the jet’s second effort to reach the tarmac.
“The plane came around again for a second attempt to land, the storm was doing its worst,” Thomsan recalled, noting that the conditions were so terrible that he “wouldn’t have swapped places with Elton.”
The plane circled again and finally managed to touch down on the third attempt. Sir Elton, 74, was reportedly “shaken” by the ordeal, but managed to shake it off and hop on a NYC bound plane in order to make it to Madison Square Garden on time for his show.