BARRY'S 'Flying Vet' Maurice Kirk was this week locked up in an American psychiatric unit - after landing his plane near George W Bush's Texas ranch.

The 63-year-old aviator and former vet was planning to visit the ranch - where the President takes working holidays - to 'thank him personally' for American coastguards plucking him out of the Atlantic Ocean after his plane ditched 75 miles off the coast of the Dominican Republic in February.

His wife Kirstie, who runs the Barry Animal Health Centre in Tynewydd Road, wrote on her husband's website: "Realising that he could not get close to the ranch, he landed and walked along the lane hoping to leave a message at the gate.

"He did not reach the gate.

"Instead a car drove behind him and he found two Smith and Wessons pointed at him by police.

"He was handcuffed, put in a police car, while several other cars drew up (11 he thinks, including the sheriff), and was taken to a police cell."

Her husband - a former drinking buddy of the late actor Oliver Reed - was taken to the psychiatric unit at Austin State Hospital on Friday, where he has since been assessed and questioned.

He was, according to Kirstie, "required to have a psychiatric assessment before secret services (CIA or FBI) question him further".

On Monday, April 28, Kirstie wrote: "I understand he did not fly within the prohibited flight area and so hope that this difficulty can be resolved quickly - not least because he is due home on May 1 and it's his turn to do the washing up!"

But a day later, she admitted the situation was "rather worrying".

She said: "I have no doubt that Maurice was doing as he claims, although this may seem somewhat unlikely to people not familiar with him.

"A vision of Jack Nicholson in One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest comes to mind.

"Maurice is a very proficient aviator who has flown around much of the world in this type of light aircraft, specifically designed for tricky manoeuvres onto battle fields during World War II.

"If Maurice had intended to land on the lawn he would have done so."

The former vet was expelled by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons for disgraceful conduct in 2002 - and since 2001 he has been attempting to fly solo around the world.

Kirstie added: "Maurice is somewhat eccentric and is quite capable of innocently making such a gesture as leaving a message at the ranch gate for the President.

"I hope the US authorities are sympathetic to a rather one-off eccentric who is bumbling round the world in a very old Piper Cub aircraft."