Elton John has been left shaken by a “white-knuckle ride” in his private plane, after it was forced to make an emergency landing due to a critical failure mid-flight.
The frightening incident occurred when the 74-year-old musician was flying from Britain to New York, for a scheduled performance at Madison Square Garden this week.
However, his twin-jet Bombardier Global Express aircraft suffered a hydraulic failure at 10,000 feet (3000 metres) in the air on Wednesday, forcing it into a hasty emergency landing in Ireland.
Farnborough Airport in Hampshire was cleared for Sir Elton’s private jet. Ambulance and emergency firefighter crews were put on standby.
Unfortunately for all aboard, the pilot had to abort the landing twice, because of winds of up to 128km/h.
“The aircraft’s nose was far too vertical. The plane was descending and was halfway along the runway when it gave up trying to hit the tarmac. It soared back in the air,” one witness said.
“A crowd had gathered after word went around that Elton was in difficulty. And as the plane came around again for a second attempt to land, the storm was doing its worst. It was a horrible thing to see, and you wouldn’t have swapped places with Elton on that small plane for anything. I bet he said a few prayers of thanks.”
Sir John was reportedly “shaken” by the ordeal, but put aside the harrowing incident and boarded another flight, to reach the US in time for his New York gig.
“It was a white-knuckle ride and Elton was shaken,” one source said.
“But he put aside any personal anguish to get back on a plane. For Elton, quite literally, the show must go on.”
The music icon confirmed his arrival in the US for his scheduled performance on social media on Wednesday (local time). Nor did he mention the midair drama during Wednesday’s show.
A representative told US media that Sir Elton was “all good”.
The Rocket Man performer has had a difficult start to 2022, after cancelling several US shows after testing positive for COVID in January.
Sir Elton – who famously fronted a vaccine campaign ad in Britain with Sir Michael Caine last year – wrote to fans after his infection, saying he was “fully vaccinated and boosted”, and had suffered only mild symptoms.
In September last year, the rocker postponed European dates on his Farewell Yellow Brick Road world tour until 2023 to allow time for an operation on an injured hip.
At the time, he told British media he would finish the tour – but that it would be his last.
“It’s something I wanna finish,” said.
“I’m looking forward to doing it and going out on the high that we were on – we were an express train that hit the buffers. At the moment I finish supposedly in 2023, in the summer, by which time I’ll be 76 – and that’s it, baby.”