John Lord is lucky to be alive after starting a heart attack at 1,500 feet.
The 64-year-old from Bury St Edmunds, who had always been in perfect health, was 20 minutes into a solo flight on Saturday afternoon when he was gripped by crippling chest pains.
He immediately turned round and flew the ten miles back to his friend’s field near Lidgate, where he had taken off.
Despite being in agony, grandfather John, a microlight pilot for 24 years, managed to land and told his friend ‘I think I’m going to die’ then collapsed.
Paramedics performed CPR and managed to revive him before rushing him to West Suffolk Hospital.
John, was due to be transferred to the specialist heart unit at Papworth Hospital on Monday from where he said: “The chest pains started to get more intense but I didn’t think it was anything serious.
“I thought they were down to being extremely hot so I was being optimistic at one point but then I thought to myself ‘I must get back on the ground’.
“I knew when I was sitting in the car on the ground that something was seriously wrong.
“I said ‘I think I’m going to die’ and the next thing I know the paramedic was doing CPR.
“It is fortunate I didn’t carry on flying and that I decided to come back when I did because if I hadn’t done that it could have been a very different story.”
He added: “That’s my flying days over. I’ve flown for over 23 years and it was a very close call. I wouldn’t want to put the stress on my wife, Angela.
“Somebody was looking after me on Saturday, that’s for sure.”
John is due to retire as a technical consultant at mobile phone giants EE.
John, who is married to wife Angela, 61, added: “I’ve never been in hospital in my life before this. I’ve never broken anything.
“I am so thankful to the ambulance service or everything that was done on Saturday. Without them it would have been so very different.”
Paramedic Dale Boulston, who saved John’s life, said: “While we were assessing the patient he went into cardiac arrest.
“We worked to resuscitate him and were fortunately able to get a return of spontaneous circulation which means his heart started beating normally again.
“We took him to West Suffolk General for further treatment and I was able to visit him in hospital on Sunday.”
An ambulance spokesman said: “It’s lucky for everyone involved that John was able to land the plane safely and fortunately our hard working crew was then on hand to give immediate lifesaving treatment.
“People who suffer a cardiac arrest outside of hospital have less than a 20 per cent chance of survival. In this case our crews were able to carry out chest compressions and give a shock from the defibrillator as soon as John went into cardiac arrest.
“This undoubtedly made a real difference to John surviving and making such a good recovery.”