Chris Henkey, the pilot for the British Airways plane that caught fire on a Las Vegas runway, said he is done with flying, and heading into retirement.
"It’s safe to say I’m finished flying," the 63-year-old told NBC News
The London-bound British Airways Flight 2276 was sitting on the runway Tuesday when it burst into flame. Henkey, just days from retirement, made the emergency call.
"Speedbird Mayday Mayday. Speedbird 2276 request fire services," he radioed. "We are evacuating on the runway. We have a fire, I repeat, we are evacuating."
A total of 157 passengers, 10 crew members, and three pilots made a successful evacuation down the inflatable slides as a result of Henkey's quick decision making.
"I felt the pilot hitting the brakes. His speed of thought probably saved our lives and that is only really sinking in as I write this," wrote Guardian journalist Jacob Steinberg
, who happened to be on the flight.
He added that passengers applauded Henkey when it was all over.
"It's not just me," Henkey, who hails from the small town of Padsworth in southeast England, said humbly. "It's the whole crew, really."
Henkey said he'd never encountered a life-threatening situation during his four decades of flying, and said that he might not take a final flight before retirement.
"I was supposed to go to Barbados on Saturday and come back next Tuesday and that would be it," he said.
"He’s a hero. He’s a great man with a warm heart, and generosity, and I’m very proud of him," said his fiancee, Lenka Nevolna, 40.
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