Volcanic ash drama gives private flyer dream landing at Luton Airport

FOR a private flyer, landing at an international airport is usually stuff saved purely for the simulators.

Yet the dream became very real for a Codicote pilot and his friend as they landed at Luton Airport.

With all international flights grounded by the cloud of volcanic ash over UK airspace, the airport was silent with no traffic in or out.

That was until a little Cessna 152 touched ground.

Geoff Cleverdon, from Codicote, and Paul Tribble from Henlow, who are both members of Henlow Flying Club, were out on a pleasure flight when they asked air traffic control at the UK’s fifth largest passenger airport if they could drop in.

The controllers were only too happy to abide and even turned on all the 1.34 mile runway’s lights – normally reserved for jet aircraft.

The 10-minute stop-by did come at a price though, namely a �220 landing fee set by the British Airports Authority.

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Mr Cleverdon, 61, has been flying since 1995, he said: “It was quite an experience to land at an international airport and it was worth the price although he did feel it was a bit exorbitant.

“But air traffic control were great and welcomed us and it will be a landing I will never forget.”

His wife Linda who watched from her garden as the Cessna passed over the family home in Bury Lane on its way back to Henlow, said: “Landing at Luton Airport was a big thrill for him. He has been grinning like a Cheshire cat ever since.”