The pop icon suffered white-knuckle flight after a glitch forced his pilot to repeatedly try to make an emergency landing in the middle of a storm.
Sir Elton John has been caught up in a terrifying aerial drama after his private jet suffered a hydraulic failure at 10,000ft (3,000m).
The plane aborted landing twice as a major storm hit the UK with winds reaching 130km/h. Firefighters rushed to Farnborough Airport, an hour south of London, during the emergency The sun reported.
A witness said it was “awful”.
“The jet was rocking and couldn’t land. It was horrible to see,” they said.
The superstar singer, 74, was shaken by the ordeal – but hours later caught another flight to the US in time for a gig.
His biting drama began shortly after the $124 million jet left the airport for New York at 10:20 a.m. local time.
About an hour into the trip, the aircraft suffered a hydraulic failure and the pilot had to turn back on approach to the southern coast of Ireland.
The aircraft returned to Farnborough and radioed air traffic control to declare an emergency landing.
Paramedics and police were alerted at 11:19 a.m. Firefighters from six stations rushed to the scene and the runway was cleared.
Plumber Philip Thomson was working when the singer’s jet, emblazoned with a huge ‘E’, came into view – as high winds from Storm Franklin battered the UK.
The airport fell silent as rumors spread that the Bombardier Global Express jet was in trouble.
“Terrible weather and epic gusts made it nearly impossible to land. Two attempts to land failed,” Mr Thomson said.
“The plane was rocking and couldn’t make it. The nose of the plane was way too vertical. The plane was descending and was halfway down the runway when it gave up on touching the tarmac. He flew into the air.
“A crowd had gathered after it was reported that Elton was in trouble. And as the plane returned for a second landing attempt, the storm was doing its worst.
“The airport windsock was horizontal and the plane was buffeted from side to side by the wind.
“The pilot made a valiant attempt to descend with the jet ‘crabbing’ into the storm. But he was unsuccessful and had to climb back up.
“It wasn’t until the third landing attempt that the plane crashed. The pilot made a flatter approach and the wind dropped slightly. Everyone watching was extremely relieved.
Mr Thomson admitted he was saying a prayer while watching.
“It was a horrible thing to see, and you wouldn’t have switched places with Elton on that little plane for the world. I bet he said a few prayers of thanks.
Sir Elton was traveling to New York to perform at Madison Square Garden as part of his Farewell Yellow Brick Road World Tour.
The star was so determined not to upset fans that he put the hardship behind him and caught a later flight to reach the United States in time for the concert.
A source said The sun the most important thing for the pop star was to go to New York.
“It was a white-knuckled ride and Elton was shaken up. But he put aside any personal angst to get back on a plane. For Elton, literally, the show must go on,” they said.
Mr Thomson, who was carrying out maintenance work at the airport on Monday before he saw the drama unfold, said he was shocked the plane took off in the storm.
“I knew it must have been a work engagement in New York for Sir Elton to try to cross the Atlantic in a private plane in a storm,” he said.
“But he didn’t expect the jet to suffer a technical problem. It was so bad that I counted at least six fire engines present, as well as the airport response team. Police and ambulance services were also there.
In 2019, a similar Bombardier Global 5000 aircraft owned by the German government had problems landing in Berlin following a malfunction shortly after takeoff.
Sir Elton is regularly seen boarding and disembarking from his plane after criss-crossing the globe.
The music star touched down in Auckland and Adelaide as part of her world tour before the Covid pandemic hit.
Sir Elton’s last world tour was announced in 2018 and was due to end in December 2020. But Covid meant dozens of shows had to be postponed.
He also announced that he was moving the UK and European legs of the tour to 2023.
The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service confirmed the tragedy with the private jet in a statement.
“Rushmoor, Hartley Wintney, Basingstoke, Fleet, Yateley and Surrey FRS firefighters were called at 11.16am on Monday morning to an incident at Farnborough Airport,” a spokesperson said.
“No action has been taken by HIWFRS with the incident being handled by the airport fire department.”
Farnborough Airport declined to comment on the emergency.
Representatives for Sir Elton have not commented.
This article originally appeared on The Sun and has been republished here with permission