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A HOLIDAY flight home turned into a terror trip for 227 Scot tourists.

Passengers said prayers and held hands as smoke filled the cabin of their plane in the skies over Spain.

They also told how an engine cut out briefly on the Gerona to Glasgow charter flight.

There was crying and screaming as desperate adults tried to comfort panicking children on the Airtours plane.

The Boeing 757 made an emergency diversion to Barcelona and was met by fire crews on landing.

Firemen wearing breathing equipment dashed on board as passengers, affected by the fumes, threw up in their seats.

Last night, as the holidaymakers returned to Scotland 26 hours late, some vowed never to fly again.

Trouble began 10 minutes after take off from Gerona at 3.30pm on Sunday, after an initial three-hour delay. The pilot was forced to divert to Barcelona.

Allan Hall, 34, of Denny in Stirlingshire, said: "There was something wrong with the plane. The right-hand engine was making strange noises before we left the ground. We started to see smoke in the cabin."

Paul Tonner, 19, also of Denny, said: "I saw the smoke and mist coming out of the air-conditioning and could smell burning rubber. When the pilot told us not to panic, I knew there was a serious problem. I don't want to fly again."

Elizabeth Neilson, of Johnstone, Renfrewshire, said: "People were petrified. Once the engine started to make strange noises, everybody in my aisle held hands. I'm sure some people said prayers."

Lee Neilson, 37,of Glasgow, travelling with husband Ross and children Laura, five, and Ross, eight, added: "My kids were terrified. One of the engines then went quiet and it seemed like the pilot got it going again because we heard it working after a couple of seconds."

Sandy Waddell, 28, of Larkhall, Lanarkshire, said: "People were nervous before we took off because of the amount of work being done to the plane."

A spokeswoman for Airtours, said: "A technical fault was detected shortly after take-off from Gerona. As a precaution, the captain diverted to Barcelona."

Passengers spent the night in a local hotel before they were taken to Reus airport and a return flight yesterday.
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Author:Moncur, James
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jul 25, 2000
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