A FLINTSHIRE man was on the first plane to touch down at Manchester Airport after the volcanic ash chaos.

Ben Williams, 25, from Connah’s Quay, was on a Canadian Affair flight which landed in Manchester on Wednesday morning – the first to land at the airport since the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland erupted on April 14.

After being stranded in Toronto for three days Ben said he was relieved to be back on home soil.

Ben, a shop assistant in Chester, said: “I heard the volcano had erupted but I didn’t take it seriously or think much of it.

“Then they started cancelling a couple of flights and the next minute British air space was closed and I started to panic.

“On the day I was due to fly home I got a phone call from my tour operator who said my flight had been cancelled.”

Luckily Ben, who had been on holiday for a fortnight, was staying with a friend and did not have to worry about hotel costs.

After three days of anxious phone calls and checking the internet he was allowed to fly home. He said: “People were really nervous on the flight and worried about the dangers, especially when we flew over Iceland.

“About halfway through we hit some turbulence and we were told to put our seatbelts on and people really started to panic, trying to get their belts on really fast.
It was tense.

“When we finally landed people were clapping and cheering.

“They were really happy to be home.”

Passengers on the flight were expecting to fly in to Newcastle but the decision to land at Manchester was a last-minute one.

The travellers were the centre of media attention when they left the plane.

Ben said: “When we came off the flight a lady warned us there were TV crews waiting in the terminal for us and if we didn’t want to be interviewed we would have to go through a side door.

“I was feeling really jetlagged so I went quietly through the side door but then my mum spotted me and started screaming and running towards me.

“The next minute all these camera men and reporters were in our face with big microphones.

“I just said, ‘come on, let’s get out of here’.

“It feels really good to be home but I don’t envy those still out there.

“I was one of the lucky ones.”