Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

Bringing Nazanin & Anoosheh Home

There’s no such thing as a ‘typical day’ at Titan, such is the variety of what we do. Granted, some days are more atypical than others. The day we flew Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori home (pictured above with Captain Joe Dennett and Captain Steve Mutch) after their respective exiles in Iran was certainly one that will live long in the memory.

Following the initial contact from the government asking whether we could stand-by for a special VIP flight, the hours and days beforehand were punctuated by uncertainty. Initially we thought we’d be flying into Iran itself. We were all but ready to set off the day prior, before being held in position. Are we leaving? Are we staying? The constant on-off-on-off waiting game is something you get used to in this line of work!

Even the following day, stood in uniform, waiting to leave the hotel, we weren’t totally sure what was happening. But eventually, we were in the air.

I think at that moment, seeing the reception, we all realised we’d done something of real benefit here.

 Steve Mutch, Captain & Fleet Manager

It had been decided that we’d collect Nazanin and Anoosheh from Muscat, in neighbouring Oman. I think it was while we were on the ground in Muscat that we started to see some accounts in the UK media of the release and imminent return. It’s a slightly surreal position to be in where the news is catching up with where you are and looking out for where the next update will come from: the media or Titan. You feel all this happening around you with a sense, not necessarily of danger, but uncertainty, given the precarity of the situation more widely. And then, after all the build-up, we finally had Nazanin and Anoosheh on board, ready to take them home to their families.

The flight on the way back was another surreal feeling, and that continued when we landed at Brize Norton in Oxfordshire. It was early, around 2 o’clock in the morning. We’d expected it to be fairly secretive and low-key, but we were greeted by press photographers; the foreign secretary, Liz Truss, was there to greet Nazanin and Anoosheh.

I think at that moment, seeing the reception, we all realised we’d done something of real benefit here. You get used to doing exciting things, whether that’s flying David Cameron around or landing in Antarctica. But the magnitude of the coverage that came with this flight was a very pleasant shock and reminder of the importance of what we do.

 Steve Mutch, Captain & Fleet Manager