Planes 'almost collided'

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The Independent Online
A COMMERCIAL airliner and a large RAF jet narrowly avoided a mid- air collision over central London yesterday, shocked witnesses claimed last night.

The RAF VC10 swerved to avoid the four-engined passenger plane, thought to be a jumbo jet, which had taken off from Heathrow, and then skimmed the top of a high-rise building, according to eyewitnesses.

The white VC10 had taken part in the flypast for the Lord Mayor's show in the City and was heading back to Brize Norton, in Oxfordshire, when the incident happened over Paddington.

Steve Berry, 41, and his wife Bonnie, 40, were driving along the Westway, near the Harrow Road, when they saw the planes come dangerously close to each other as they crossed flight paths.

He said: "When you look up it's hard to tell how close planes are. But my wife and I both thought they were about 400 yards apart. One of the planes just missed the top of one of the high-rise buildings. It then looked like the top plane swerved."

Norman Freegard, 43, said: "We heard the screaming of engines really low. The first plane had no markings but had two aerials at the front of the plane. If that thing had hit here, the deaths would have been in their thousands."

Leonard Todd, 35, said that he rushed out of his house when he heard the deafening sound of the planes overhead.

He said: "It [the VC10] was going at a hell of a whack. You don't get a noise like that unless something was wrong. I'm amazed that these jets did not hit each other. The plane definitely had to take avoidance action. The passenger plane was pretty low."

But the MOD, the CAA and RAF Brize Norton have all denied that there was any danger of a crash. Flight Lieutenant Warren, head of air traffic control at Brize Norton, said there would be no investigation into the eyewitness reports.

A spokeswoman for the MOD said there had been no reports of a near collision.

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