A paralympic gold medalist has been found guilty of glueing himself to the top of a British Airways aircraft at London City Airport (LCY) during a climate change protest orchestrated by Extinction Rebellion in October 2019.
James Brown managed to clamber on top of the British Airways CityFlyer operated Embraer regional aircraft and then glued his hand to the roof. The two-time paralympic winner represented himself in court but the jury took just 45-minutes to find him guilty of causing a public nuisance.
Prosecutors told Southwark Crown Court that Brown had bought a ticket for the flight to Amsterdam and was boarding with other passengers when a member of cabin crew asked Brown, who is partially sighted, whether he needed additional assistance.
Brown allegedly told the member of cabin crew about his real reason for being there and then proceeded to climb on top of the aircraft. He managed to smuggle superglue past airport security and used it to glue his hand to the fuselage.
With his other hand, he stuck his mobile phone in the door to prevent it from closing.
Brown had said that he wanted “to do something spectacular” to highlight what he see’s as a climate emergency. “My motivation was to maximise media attention to the climate crisis, which at that time was hardly receiving any,” Brown said of his exploits.
He was amongst a group of protestors who had been arrested on suspicion of plotting to fly drones near Heathrow airport in an attempt to bring flights around London to a grinding halt.
On the same day that Brown staged his protest, British Airways announced that it was committed to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. BA’s parent company was the first airline group to commit to achieving net-zero.
Brown managed to remain glued to the aircraft for just one hour before police used special chemicals to remove the glue and then took him into custody. Despite the protest being relatively short-lived, British Airways says 300 passengers were impacted by the stunt at a cost to the airline of around £40,000.
Pictures of the stunt have been immortalised in several memes – many of which highlight the public’s desire to travel in a post lockdown world.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.