A British schoolboy who was trapped in Abu Dhabi because of his acute fear of flying touched down in Britain today – after being hypnotised on the plane.
Joe Thompson, now 12, had been due to fly back to Britain with his family last June after his father's work contract ended.
But his acute fear of travel, including by boat or car, that developed in March 2012 meant he was unable to make the 4,500-mile journey back to Weston-super-Mare, Somerset.
Instead, Joe was forced to remain in the country with his father, Tony, 62, who looked after him while his mother worked in the UK.
Over the months, Joe tried four times to board a plane with his father - but each time he broke down in tears and refused to fly.
Today, a year and a half after he first developed his fear, he was back on British soil after being hypnotised on the plane.
The schoolboy, accompanied by his father Tony, 62, touched down at Heathrow following a session from internationally renowned hypnotherapist Russell Hemmings.
The schoolboy's mother Pauline, 50, was at the airport at 5.30am to welcome her son home.
This morning, Joe said: 'I’m so happy to be home. I can’t believe how cold it is here.
'I just want to get home and see my dog, I haven’t seen him for two years and I just want to give him a big hug.
'My mum and dad have been great and I’m so grateful to Russell for taking the time to help me. I just can’t wait to get home and get back to my life.'
Since being stranded out in the Gulf, Joe and his father have been renting and staying at friend’s houses to save money.
Speaking this morning Mr Thompson said: 'Words cannot describe how happy we all are.
'There were some dicey moments before he boarded the flight because he started getting very distressed.
'With Russell’s help he managed to get him onto the plane but soon after take-off he got very upset again.
'There was no event that prompted it. It just happened out of the blue. And the fear is quite acute.
The family moved from Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, to Abu Dhabi when Mr Thompson got a job as a quality manager at a private hospital in 2009.
They were due to return to Britain in June 2012, but in March that year Joe developed his fear when he was due to fly from the UK back to Abu Dhabi with his mother.
When it came to board the flight, he was unable to get on the plane saying it was too long a journey.
The family re-booked the flight with a stopover in Turkey the next week to break up the journey and he successfully made it back to the Gulf.
However, later that month Mr Thompson and Joe, who would like to be a professional rugby player, were due to fly to Sri Lanka to take part in a rugby tournament.
Mr Thompson, a rugby coach, said: 'We got on the plane but Joe became so traumatised, the crew said he had to get off.
'It was terrible. I had 40 other children with me who were all taking part in the tournament.
'I couldn’t leave them so I had to let Joe get off. I called my wife and she came and picked him up.
Joe’s phobia baffled doctors and psychiatrists as he has flown long-haul all his life.
The family say they have spent about £40,000 trying to cure Joe's fear including several cancelled plane tickets and endless appointments with doctors.
Earlier this year his desperate father, a former aide to former deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, even tried to arrange for his son to board a cargo ship home.
But because the ship was sailing from the Saudi Arabian port of Jeddah, embassy officials refused to grant the Thompsons entry visas.
At the time, Mr Thompson said: 'I explained the situation and took a copy of the story to the Saudi Embassy but they still said no.
'I asked why and the official just kept saying, "We cannot help, we will not issue you a visa."
Now that he is home, Joe, who has missed more than a year of schooling, is expected to enroll as a student in at Churchill Academy in Weston-super-Mare later this month.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2448402/Schoolboy-stuck-Abu-Dhabi-18-months-acute-fear-flying-lands-Britain-hypnotised-plane.html#ixzz2h4XzRucZ
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