The schoolboy whose fear of flying has left him marooned in Abu Dhabi has just "landed" an Airbus passenger jet as part of his therapy.
Joe Thompson, 11, from Weston-super-Mare, has had a one-hour session on a pilot training Airbus A320 simulator at Etihad Airways HQ to try to overcome his fear of all long-distance travel.
His father, Tony, told the Western Daily Press yesterday: "He had a bad anxiety attack in the car going down and when we got to within 20 yards of the entrance was doubled up with stomach pains – these are usual symptoms.
"But he managed to make it into the training centre and after some encouragement entered the simulator and really enjoyed the session. In fact he landed the plane twice! He said the experience really helped him and he was able to speak to some of the aircrew.
"He has been invited back again. The staff were really good, and I am sure this is one small step in the right direction for him.
The Thompson family, including his mother and sister, had been living in Abu Dhabi while Mr Thompson worked as quality manager for a large private hospital. They were all due to fly home on July 1 because Joe was doe to start at a new school, Churchill Academy on September 4.
He has flown with no problems since he was a baby but his fear, thought to be about travelling in a confined space for a long distance, has led father and son to remain behind to conquer the problem.