‘I wrote goodbye note on flight’, says Hollywood actress on plane that made emergency landing in Shannon

A Hollywood actress penned a farewell note to her partner as the transatlantic flight she was on made an emergency landing at Shannon Airport yesterday.

The United Airlines service from Belfast to the US was forced to divert to Shannon Airport after pilots raised concerns the landing gear could not be locked in place for a touchdown.

Flight UA-76 from Belfast International Airport to Newark took off at 11.10am but declared an emergency a short while later and circled over the west coast for about two hours to burn off fuel before landing safely just before 2.30pm.

Geraldine Hughes, who starred in Rocky Balboa and Gran Torino and several Broadway shows, revealed she wrote the message on her phone as pilots made the approach to Shannon.

The Belfast-born star said: “It was awful. It is amazing what this sort of situation does, because we knew for two hours that maybe the landing gear wasn’t going to work and we kept hearing this noise.

Geraldine Hughes
Geraldine Hughes

“At a certain point I got through to texting, when we were at a lower altitude, and when my other half texted me, I lost it — I started to cry. The possibility was that we may not make it.

“I wrote him a goodbye note. I composed a goodbye note on the notes section of my iPhone.

“The thing about our life is, I always tell him what I am feeling. And I just thought, ‘well I don’t want to leave those things unsaid’.

“I didn’t send it but I told him I wrote it and he said he doesn’t ever want to read that note.”

The actress had been visiting family in Belfast — her first non-working visit home in years.

Hughes added: “It’s terrible for people who weren’t on the flight.

“As soon as we landed my sisters and everybody were texting because it was on the news. But it was awful, really awful.

Hughes was one of many passengers who spoke of their relief after the flight touched down safely, and cabin crew were praised for their calm and professional approach to the emergency.

The flight made a low fly-past at Shannon before making a final approach and landing.

Passengers were told to brace for the landing while those sitting at exits had been briefed on how to assist with an evacuation.

The landing at Shannon was described as smooth and uneventful with emergency crews including firefighters stationed on the runway.

The service was subsequently cancelled.


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