Leeds United Air Crash Memories

Keith Hanvey

Life in 1998

In 1998 Keith was 46 years old, he had three children Charlotte, Olivia and Richard (14).

A former 1970’s Manchester City player, Keith was at the time Leeds United Commercial Manager.

This is an article written by Keith in the Official Matchday Magazine of Leeds United AFC on 8th April 1998


The day I thought Leeds United’s end had come

When Leeds United’s chartered British Aerospace 748 crash-landed at Stansted, seconds after take-off, just over a week ago, the club’s Commercial Manager Keith Hanvey braced himself and waited to die.


“I honestly thought it was the end for us all,” he said as he recalled the dramatic and frightening events in the early hours of Tuesday, March 31,

Keith had helped to organise the trip and, like everyone else on board, was expecting a routine flight back to Leeds-Bradford Airport after the team’s 3-0 defeat at West Ham.


There had been a delayed departure while the team’s skips were loaded on to the plane but nothing out of the ordinary. “We had been on similar flights to and from matches five or six times this season and we were expecting nothing unusual as the plane began its journey down the runway.” said Keith.

“I can’t tell you the exact sequence of events or how long it all took, but when we took off, I heard a crack, a bang and someone shouting: “Bloody Hell”

I had a panoramic view from the back of the plane There were sparks coming down the right side and then I saw flames and heard the siren. I didn’t know how far we had gone for all I knew we might have gone a mile or two.


“Then the plane went down. levelled off and I just thought Oh God. I went into the brace for crash position and the guy next to me said ‘This is it’  We said to each other ‘Just be lucky’ and waited for an impact.


“I think I must have closed my eyes and when I opened them, I saw the cabin bathed in an orange colour. My first thought was that the front of the plane had caught fire but looking back now, it was probably the flames from the engine reflected through the window.


“When we hit the floor, I didn’t know where we were. We could have been over a housing estate or anywhere, because it was pitch black outside. I certainly didn’t think we were still in the runway area.


“We bounced and bobbed and I thought we were going to hit something at any moment. I just thought: how am I going to die here?”


Keith said everyone stayed remarkably calm in the circumstances and he added: “I know what death must be like now, because there is a calmness and serenity. I had more or less resigned myself to losing my life and I remember thinking: This is Leeds United and we have gone.


“The bobbing along the ground seemed to go on for ages, then suddenly we stopped and the nose of the plane dug into the ground. I could still see the flames and people were telling each other to get out of the plane. “The stewardess told us to leave on the left side. I saw Ian Harte and Harry Kewell get out and I went to the edge and saw what a long way we had to jump to the ground. I hadn’t bent my knees for about eight years because they are shot from my years as a footballer, but I knew I had to jump.


“I landed on my side and started to run, but the guy who had been sitting alongside me, Geoff Samuel, a long-time supporter and one of our corporate guests, is very heavy and after jumping out of the plane he couldn’t move. He had hurt his back but we managed to drag him away and we ran to safety.

“Everyone regrouped and made sure we were all accounted for.


There was an unbelievable mixture of emotions, but mainly intense relief “.


Back in the airport building the drama turned to humour.

Footballers regularly face all kinds of emotions – the highs and lows – but nothing quite like this. As the jokes began to flow, Rod Wallace quipped: ‘What a result that was!’


Then there was a classic moment when cups of tea and packets of crisps were handed round. They were barbecued flavour and one of the players shouted: ‘Blimey, lads, that could have been us.’


Keith said: “All kinds of remarks like that came out, but behind the jokes we knew we had been damned lucky. Because of the distances involved I suppose it is inevitable that Leeds United will fly again, especially if we qualify for Europe, but that is not for me to decide. It rests with the players and the management.


Naturally, people have to go on their holidays, but flying will never be quite the same again for those of us who were on that plane. I just thank the pilot and crew for the impeccable way they reacted.


“Of course, life goes on. We were in a surreal situation and of course it will be talked about many times over the years. We are all just so grateful to be still here to do that talking.”

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


The last 25 years

Keith has been with Leeds United for almost 30 years

currently he is the compere in the banqueting suite at Elland Road



Keith and his family run a successful Corporate Events Company.


Keith and his wife love spending time with their 5 young grandchildren



Message to the aircrew