A schoolboy from Somerset who was stranded in Abu Dhabi for more than a year because of his fear of flying has said he plans to fly again after finally making it back to Britain.
Joe Thompson, 12, and his father, Tony, said they were forced to stay in the Middle East after the youngster developed the extreme phobia, while his mother and sister returned to their family home in Weston-super-Mare.
After four previous failed attempts to board a plane, Joe landed at Heathrow Airport on Monday after being hypnotised.
Speaking to ITV’s Daybreak, he thanked hypnotist Russell Hemmings, who worked with him to overcome his fear.
“It feels great, just amazing,” he said.
“I can’t believe I did it. Without Russell none of this would have worked. He cares about me. He’s not just my hypnotherapist, he’s my friend.
He’s never doubted what I can do. He always say ‘You can, you can’.
“A lot of the time I’d be shivering, I’d be so scared I couldn’t move. It would just be terrifying for me and my parents.”
The family moved to the United Arab Emirate four years ago when Mr Thompson started work there.
Joe said he believed an ear infection during a flight sparked his phobia.
“I think I developed it when I had a cold and I had an ear infection when I flew,” he told Daybreak.
“It was extremely painful and I just kept remembering that pain.”
Joe’s mother, Pauline, said: “It was just such a relief to have him back. We were running out of options.”
Asked whether he would fly again, Joe replied: “Yes, definitely.”