PILOT Martyn Smith has spoken of his pride after being chosen to fly the world’s largest passenger aeroplane from Gatwick today.
The Airbus A380 touches down at London Gatwick as Emirates marks 25 years of service at the airport.
The A380, which weighs 569 tons, the equivalent of 110 elephants, is already used by Emirates for flights into Heathrow and Manchester airports, but this will be the first time a scheduled A380 service will operate from Gatwick.
Mr Smith, 48, who hails from Waterlooville, will pilot the plane on its six-hour journey back to Dubai.
Mr Smith, who moved to Dubai five years ago to work for Emirates, said: ‘I am very proud to fly the world’s largest passenger aeroplane.
‘It’s fantastic to do it from home shores.’
The double-decker plane carries 525 passengers and has 50 per cent more floor space than the next biggest passenger jet.
About piloting the plane, Mr Smith said: ‘’It’s marvellous.
‘It’s a very well-equipped aeroplane and very easy to fly.
‘It’s probably one of the easiest planes I have flown.
‘It’s nice to go from BA’s smallest jet to flying the largest jet in the world.
‘It’s quite a proud moment for me.’
Mr Smith has been a pilot since 1985 and used to take News photographers up into the sky for aerial shots of Portsmouth.
He said he will never lose the flying bug.
‘It’s just something that has been in my blood since I can remember,’ he said. ‘
‘It just fascinated me.
‘I joined the airforce and learned to fly. I was then teaching people out of Eastleigh for years.’