A FAMILY were left terrified after a plane loaded with enough aviation fuel to fly to the Middle East took off from Southend Airport and narrowly missed roof tops.

The white Boeing 737 jet took off for Jeddah at 3.20pm last Thursday, and passed very close to two homes in Prince Avenue, Westcliff.

A 51-year-old resident, who asked not to be identified, was in his garden when the jet roared above him at 250ft - instead of the usual 450ft.

The resident, whose elderly parents live with him, said: “I live directly on the flight path so I am used to planes going over, but this was extremely low. “I have never experienced anything like it.

“It wasn’t an easyJet plane. It was flying about half what they normally do. I thought it was going to take my aerial off at least! “I have lived here all my life and have never seen any plane fly so low.”

The resident’s 82-year-old father and 75-year-old mother were left in a state of shock.

His mum said: “It really frightened me so much. “I have angina and had to take my medication. I thought the roof was coming off it was so low. I’ve never heard anything like it. It was like a bomb coming down. It was really like during the war.

“I couldn’t stop shaking and every time I hear a plane now I think it’s going to happen again.” The plane had been at the airport for maintenance and was not carrying passengers.

David Lister, operations director at the airport, said: "The aircraft was a 737 that had been undergoing maintenance was flying out to the Middle East. Given the distance the aircraft was flying it had a full fuel load.

“The 737 has different performance characteristics to the A319's regularly seen flying in and out of London Southend Airport, so therefore it used more of the runway length and would have appeared lower than the majority of scheduled flights to people living in houses close to the end of the runway.”

Mr Lister added: “There were no safety concerns raised by air traffic regarding this flight and its routing complied with the airport's noise requirements."