Leeds United Air Crash Memories

David Swift

Life in 1998

Unbelievably David Swift’s brother Ian had ‘escaped’ with a broken leg from the Kegworth air-crash 9 years earlier in 1989

Leeds United physio David Swift and his brother Ian have stuck up a miraculous family double of air crash escapes.

David, 35, was aboard United’s crash-landed plane at Stansted, while Ian, 33, ‘escaped’ with a broken leg nine years ago when a British Midland Boeing 737 landed by the side of the M1 motorway at Kegworth, just short of the runway at East Midlands Airport. A total of 47 people died on that occasion.

David had been on physio duty with United at West Ham, hours before the crash-landing at Stansted

David’s brother said: “What a family record – two air crashes and two walk-aways can’t be bad. Ian who works in London had been at the West Ham game and I rang him the next morning to break the news.

I told him the score was 1-1 now, and he didn’t know what I was talking about because he hadn’t been listening to the radio or watching TV. I didn’t see him after the game because we were rushing to get to the airport.

“It is great that so many people have taken the trouble to express their good wishes to us all since the crash and I want to thank them.” United’s assistant manager David O’Leary, who pushed open an emergency door on the plane, said:

“The waiting to crash was the worst. You know you are going to crash and you wait and wait for it to happen. I had no idea where we were or what was in front of us.

Imagine if we had ended up on the M25. I did what anyone would have done – I got the door open quickly.”

Article in the Official Matchday Magazine of Leeds United AFC on 8th April 1998


The last 25 years

Incredibly David’s next flight was only three weeks after the crash and much to his surprise it was on an identical plane!

David recalled “My former brother in law and sister in law used to live in the Isle of Man and my very first flight was 3 weeks after the crash was from Liverpool to the Isle of Man. Imagine my surprise when I arrived at Liverpool Airport to find it was with Emerald Airways in exactly the same type of plane we had crashed in! After a safe landing in Douglas I soon got over any anxieties I had about flying so soon after the crash!”



Only recently David had been talking about the crash in an after dinner talk 

David explained “I was only mentioning Captain John Hackett last Friday in an after dinner talk I did at the Rugby Club…… when I first came to the Rugby Club we had a minibus that I was asked to drive to a preseason game (it really was a dog!) and I remarked that the plane we crashed in was in a better state than the minibus……after the crash!!

I then went on to relate the story of the plane crash and what a sterling job John did.”



David continued to work as a Leeds United Physiotherapist until 2001.

After 2001 David opened a private practice Swift Physiotherapy in Rotherham, alongside being Head Physiotherapist for Rotherham Titans Rugby Club.



In 2020 David and Adrienne married

David and Adrienne now live happily in Tickhill with their two working cocker spaniels

Hector and Mika

David has a son Neil and three young grandchildren.



Message to the aircrew