A BLACKPOOL dad today spoke of the terrifying moment he realised his son was missing – and thousands of feet in the air.
Liam Corcoran managed to fly to Rome on board a Jet2.com aeroplane after disappearing following a swimming lesson in Manchester.
The 11-year-old, who had never flown before and does not even have a passport, managed to evade checks at Manchester Airport and board the Jet2.com flight without any documents – and was only found when other passengers raised the alarm.
His dad, Aaron Fort, of Central Drive, said it “scared the life out of him” when he realised where his young son was.
The 34-year-old, who works at Barnado’s on Abingdon Street, said: “I have talked to Liam since he returned to the UK.
“He is still taking in what he has done – he seemed a bit petrified by the enormity of it all.
“Liam has some learning problems and copes differently from other children with problems, but this is the biggest prank I’ve come across.
“But I have to say the airport and the airline have some questions to answer.
“If he had got off the plane as easy as he got on Lord knows what would have happened to him wandering round Rome airport.”
Liam had been taking a swimming lesson at a pool in Manchester, when Mr Fort said he decided to leave the pool without his mum knowing.
He then walked or got a bus to Manchester Airport – a distance of around three miles – and appeared to have boarded the plane undetected after pretending to be part of a family.
Mr Fort said: “He had been swimming at the baths and there had been a bit of trouble there which may have affected him.
“He wears armbands as he is not the best swimmer and I think he got into difficulties and the lifeguard had to throw him a rope to get him out.
“That sort of incident would have worried him – he is that sort of lad and he would have panicked.
“He must have got changed and given his mother the slip and then walked from the baths in Wythenshawe to the airport.
“I thought people should be counted on an off but that must not have been the case.
“He has never had a passport, never been to Rome, never been abroad. He’s ridden a tram – that’s about it.”
The first Mr Fort knew of his sons escapade – which has led to at least five members of airport staff being suspended – was when he received a phone call from the police.
Cabin crew on-board Tuesday’s flight, which departed from Terminal One, realised the young stowaway was on board after they were alerted by concerned passengers.
Liam remained on the plane when it landed at Rome’s Fiumicino airport and stayed on-board for its return flight to Manchester.
That landed at 10.25pm on Tuesday night and the youngster was reunited with his mum before being interviewed by police.
Liam today told The Sun newspaper he he had walked through a body scanner and metal detector, but his lack of documents was not noticed by staff.
The youngster then passed through a gate where he was not required to show a passport or boarding pass, and made it on to Jet2.com flight LS791 to the Italian capital without being asked to show his boarding stub to cabin crew.
Liam said: “There were lots of people but I didn’t speak to anyone. I followed where people were going and then at the barrier I went underneath it. I didn’t have anything on me and no-one asked me for anything. I did what I asked and just carried on walking.”
The schoolboy added: “I just wanted to go to the toilet. I wasn’t trying to go anywhere I wasn’t allowed. But it was easier than my homework, even easier than computer games.”
Mr Fort is looking forward to his own reunion with his son.
He added: “It scared the life out of me.
“I thought it was some kind of wind up when I heard. At first I didn’t believe them but my wife came on and told me it was true.
“Liam and I will be meeting up this week and I will give him a big cuddle.”
Manchester Airport has pledged to launch a full investigation into how Liam ended up on the flight.
An airport spokesman said: “This extremely serious matter is now being urgently investigated. It is clear documentation has not been checked correctly at security and the boarding gate. The boy went through full security screening so the safety of passengers and the aircraft was never compromised.”
A spokesman for Jet2.com said: “We are fully investigating the incident as a matter of urgency and the staff involved have been suspended during this investigation.”