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26 Injuries Reported On Pan Am Flight

November 12, 1987

MIAMI (AP) _ A Pan Am jetliner hit heavy turbulence 33,000 feet over the Atlantic Ocean on Wednesday night, but landed safely in Miami after the pilot radioed that 26 people had been injured, authorities said.

The A-310 with 127 passengers and nine crew members was en route from New York’s Kennedy Airport to Caracas, Venezuela, and Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, when it ran into clear-air turbulence at 8:08 p.m. EST about 340 miles northeast of Miami, said Pan Am spokesman Alan Loflin.

″Two physicians on board went up and down the aisle of the plane on the way to Miami to report injuries and to make sure the most seriously hurt were ready to go,″ Loflin said.

The most serious injury appeared to be a woman with a broken hip, said Jackson Memorial hospital spokesman Mark Santo. Another woman suffered a head injury and a man was diagnosed with a fractured or dislocated shoulder, he said, adding that the rest of the injuries were minor.

Four people with undisclosed injuries were brought to Palmetto General Hospital in neighboring Hialeah, said nursing supervisor Martha Boldizar.

Joanne Davis, a spokeswoman for the Metro-Dade Fire Department, said other people were being treated at the airport.

″We were just getting ready to watch the movie and (the plane) just fell,″ said passenger John Payton, a member of the U.S. Junior Karate team. ″Everybody hit the ceiling, everybody at once. It happened two or three times, and after that it leveled off and they were able to get some medical attention.″

The team was heading for a competition in Trinidad.

″It was pretty scary,″ said teammate Ronald Brady. ″It fell, and everybody sort of jumped up and hit their head on the ceiling. The two people in front of me looked like they got very badly hurt.″

Flight 217 was diverted from its scheduled route and landed at Miami International Airport at 9:20 p.m., according to the Federal Aviation Administration in Atlanta.

″Clear air turbulence has nothing to do with any abnormal sky conditions,″ Loflin said. ″It just happens seriously two or three times a year, and there’s absolutely nothing you can do to prevent it.

″The plane dropped and rustled the people around, but the pilot got it under control very quickly,″ he said.

The FAA received word of five serious injuries to passengers, minor injuries to two flight attendants and an undetermined number of minor injuries to other passengers.

Loflin said accommodations would be provided for those passengers who were not seriously hurt, and the flight was to resume Thursday.

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