25 March 2001

Kenya: 'Mr Bean' Saves Plane in Mid-Air Flight Saga

London — The British comedian Rowan Atkinson, better known as Mr Bean, took control of a light aircraft on a flight from Mombasa to Nairobi when the pilot passed out, even though he had never flown a plane before.

The details of the extra-ordinary incident have just been revealed by the Spectator magazine on its website in the UK.

According to British media reports, the incident happened a month ago when Mr Atkinson took control of the plane for several minutes as his wife attempted to wake the pilot up.

Eventually after being slapped round the face several times by both Mr and Mrs Atkinson, the pilot woke up and managed to land the plane.

The incident was reported to the Kenyan authorities and the pilot concerned is said to have been suspended pending an investigation.

It was only the Atkinsons and their two children who were in the plane when the dramatic incident happened at around 16,000ft. There was no co-pilot and the TV star had to grab the joystick of the plane to bring its nose up and keep it under control.

The Cessna 202 has no automatic pilot. Mr Atkinson has refused to comment on the incident in the UK but his brother said: "Rowan has never flown a plane before. He's hired private planes often enough.

"All I knew was that he was off on holiday in Kenya with his family for a week or two, but I'm always the last to know, he said.

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