SYDNEY (Reuters) - Prince Harry and his wife Meghan returned to Australia on Friday from a tour of Pacific islands after their plane was forced to abort a first landing because another aircraft was in the way.
Their Qantas plane charter flight QF6031, approaching Sydney, dropped to 125 feet before performing a “go-around”, according to FlightRadar24.
In aviation terminology, a go-around is a when a pilot pulls out of a landing and makes another attempt after circling the airport. According to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority a go-around is a “common and very safe practice”.
A Reuters witness on the plane said the episode was calm.
The pilot explained that a plane had been slower than anticipated rolling off the runway so they were going around and everyone would get another chance for a good look at the amazing views of Sydney Harbour.
“The captain advised those onboard they’d be doing a go-around as there was another aircraft on the runway that took longer than expected to take-off,” a Qantas spokeswoman said in an email to Reuters.
They landed safely at around 6 p.m. (0700 GMT), she added.
In Australia, more than 800 standard go-arounds are performed in a typical year.
On Saturday, the royal couple will attend the closing of the Invictus Games, which are being held Sydney. The games founded by Harry are an international paralympic-style event for military personnel wounded in action.
They will then visit New Zealand as part of their 16-day Commonwealth tour.
Earlier on Friday, the pair donned garlands of red flowers and handmade wrap skirts called ta’ovala, given as a traditional sign of respect, to tour the island nation of Tonga.
They met Tongan Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pōhiva at a government building, funded by China but named the St George Building, in the capital, Nuku’alofa.
On the way in, Harry stopped to embrace a small boy holding a sign which said “Free hugs!”
Tonga, a country of some 170 reef-fringed tropical islands and 108,000 people, is a former British colony.
The couple, who are expecting a child of their own in the spring, were serenaded by students at Tupou College, and called in at the Royal Palace, feted everywhere by excited crowds waving flags and signs celebrating the visit.
They laughed when boys from the college sang about mosquitoes, complete with dance moves, at a ceremony to dedicate two forest reserves on the campus, where they also inspected a caged black parrot.
School children later lined the route to the airport where the couple walked over a carpet of woven mats to their plane which left for Australia in the afternoon.
Earlier on their tour, the couple visited Fiji, where enormous crowds showed up to welcome them, and Australia where the public thronged the Sydney Opera House to catch a glimpse of Queen Elizabeth’s grandson and his wife.
Reporting by Tom Westbrook, Swati Pandey; Additional reporting by Jamie Freed; Editing by Robert Birsel