I’m A Celebrity star Frank Dettori has revealed his struggles with claustrophobia due to a horrific plane crash which happened in 2000.
The jockey, 52, is predicted enter the Australian jungle next week when the show kicks off, however he is likely to some into difficulty with some of the challenges.
Frankie escaped death during a plane accident at Newmarket racecourse in 2000 that took the life of pilot Patrick Mackey.
The media personality had been due to travel to another race meet at Goodwood on the same day alongside Ray Cochrane in the Piper Seneca plane.
Frankie said: ‘I’ll fly in jumbo jets and I’ll fly in helicopters, but light aircraft? Not a chance. I developed claustrophobia too.
‘I used to laugh at my mum when I was a kid and she’d have to have the window open, or when she wouldn’t go in a lift, but now it’s happening to me.’
Speaking in his 2021 memoir Leap of Faith, Frankie detailed hearing a loud banging and feeling like something wasn’t right.
The light aircraft was battling with strong winds and weather before smoke began to billow out of the right engine.
Frankie said: ‘I can see the first flickering of flames, and the propeller looks as though it’s damaged. That bang we heard earlier must have been hitting the ground as the plane lurched to the side. We tilt suddenly, hard over to the right at a crazy angle, the ground seeming almost off to my side rather than directly beneath. I brace myself in my seat, clinging to the armrests.
‘Patrick’s fighting at the controls to keep us airborne, but it’s mission impossible. We’re being pulled down to the ground. We’re going to die. We’re going to die. We’re going to die.’ Frankie said that before the moment of impact, he was not scared, but instead was overcome with a feeling of ‘disappointment’.
He explained: ‘It’s so stupid. I’m in perfect health, I’m one of the best in the world at what I do, I’ve just won the Gold Cup, and most of all I’ve got a wife and baby boy I love. All about to be wiped out so close to home I can practically see my front door. I don’t even have the strength to scream or cry. What I feel most, even beyond fear, is disappointment.
‘My life isn’t flashing in front of my eyes like lots of people say it does at times like these. I’m just thinking, Why? Why now? Why take me now? Finished, lights off, gone, dead: a button pressed, a life ended. It’s going to hurt like hell. I hope it’s quick.’
The British flat racing champ wrote than he could still here the sound as they plummeted into the mound of earth known as Devil’s Dyke.
Frankie credits Ray for saving his life, as he pulled him from the plane and he was rushed to hospital with damage to his leg and face.
He said: ‘I can’t shake the feeling I’ve had pretty much since the crash, and certainly since the morphine and painkillers wore off: why did he die when I didn’t? He was such a good guy, and 52 is no age to die.
‘Everybody just expects me to carry on as normal, to ride as normal, to be Frankie as normal. “Oh, it’s Frankie, he’ll be all right.” No one wants to be normal more than I do, but only now do I really appreciate something fundamental about my life: that nothing in it has ever been normal.
‘It’s not normal to have a dad who’s champion jockey, who sent me away to a different country aged 14 and whom I sometimes don’t talk to for years on end. It’s not normal to have scores of reporters at a police station when you go there. It’s not normal to ride seven winners in seven races at Ascot.
‘It’s not normal to survive a plane crash which nine times out of 10 would have killed you. And it’s not normal to have done all this before the age of 30. Maybe I take that abnormality so much for granted that it’s become normal, and deep down I am still the same old Frankie. At least that’s what I tell myself. But it’s not true.
‘Other people notice it, even if I don’t. You’re a bit quiet, Frankie. You’re not your usual self. Nothing huge or of too much concern: just a little off my baseline levels. I don’t see a counsellor. I’m Italian. By the time I’ve told the story to a million family and friends, what else is there to say? I think I’m OK, but inside the same questions are churning around over and over again. Why me? Why not me? Why did I survive when Patrick didn’t?
‘The fear of knowing that death could be so close and unexpected and that next time I might not be so lucky. These thoughts tumble over each other like clothes in a washing machine.’ Frankie has been in Australia for the Melbourne Cup racing event this week and is expected to head to Brisbane airport shortly to meet up with ITV execs and head onto the reality show.
Despite concerns about Frankie taking part in the challenges, the sports star has reportedly told pals his greatest concern will actually be about his appearance.
He has been tipped to be set to munch on some creepy crawlies and challenge himself in some terrifying challenges in the jungle after his retirement.
It has been reported that the sportsman is keen to star in the ITV show, but isn’t as worried about the bugs or trials as he is about his appearance.
Speaking to The Sun, a source revealed: ‘Frankie is excited for the jungle but is just worried about who will do his hair while he is there!’
Frankie, who announced his retirement from horse racing after 35 years in December last year, was reported to be joining I’m A Celeb last month.