Ripon and Commonwealth diving star involved in flight’s emergency Russian landing

Jack Laugher and Tome Daley's plane as pictured on Tom Daley's instagram account
Jack Laugher and Tome Daley's plane as pictured on Tom Daley's instagram account

An aeroplane with diver Jack Laugher on board was forced to make an emergency landing on Monday after experiencing a mid-air technical problem.

The Ripon-born athlete was on board a Virgin Atlantic flight back from the diving World Cup in Shanghai when the in-flight problem was detected.

While over Mongolia, passengers noticed the aircraft jettisoning excess fuel and there were strong possibilities the plane would be forced into a water landing.

However, the flight eventually landed at a military base in Irkutsk, Russia, before firefighters spent an hour hosing down the plane with passengers still on board.

Jack said on Twitter: “So we had to emergency land on a tiny airstrip in Russia. Just so grateful we’re all okay and thanks to @Virgin for keeping us all safe.”

Virgin Atlantic confirmed the emergency landing was a precautionary measure and the flight was met at the airport by local emergency services. The airline also stated it was continuing to investigate the issue and apologised for any inconvenience caused.

Jack’s father, Derek, only found out about his son’s emergency landing by text on Monday morning and struggled for communication throughout the day.

He said: “The first we knew about it was on Monday morning when my wife received a text message from Jack letting us know he was okay.

“The most important thing is that they are safe, although it must have been extremely scary having oxygen masks coming down from the ceiling.

“Jack sent us a message that night saying they were safe and the divers had gone out for a drink just to celebrate being alive.”

Jack was returning to London after winning Bronze at the World Cup in the men’s 3m springboard final, ahead of his team-mate and Olympian Tom Daley.

The pair were scheduled to land in England on Monday to enjoy a couple of days’ rest before heading to Glasgow to compete in the Commonwealth Games.

However, while the divers will not miss any of the games after arriving home on Tuesday evening, Derek said their preparations will have been affected by the delay.

He said: “It was really good to give the divers a couple of days break to spend with their families but that has been chopped right down by this.

“Jack will only be home early on Wednesday and then the opening ceremony is on Thursday so it just puts everybody under added strain.”