Airline Transports Passengers With Hole in Craft
Feb. 13, 1986
HARLINGEN, Texas (AP) _ Richard Magee said he thought he was going to go through his seat when an American Airlines jet attempted to land in heavy fog, but bounced short of the runway and struck several lights in its path.
The Boeing 727 aborted the landing early Saturday and headed to San Antonio and two other cities before a ''fist-size'' hole was discovered in the plane's belly, federal officials said.
Passengers were aboard two of those flights. The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportion Safety Board are investigating.
Flight 844 left Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport late Friday and was trying to make a scheduled landing at Valley International Airport in Harlingen at 12:15 a.m. Saturday, said FAA spokeswoman Gerrie Cook.
Visibility, however, was poor and the plane circled the airport three times trying to make an instrument landing. On the third try, it touched down about 450 feet short of the end of the runway, Ms. Cook said.
The plane then hit an airport light stanchion, knocked out five lights, proceeded about 200 more feet, hit a second stanchion and blew out another light, she said.
Magee, 61, of McAllen, said Wednesday the passengers bounced around and sat in silence. ''I thought I was going to go through the seat,'' he said.
''It was a very strange feeling. The inside of the plane was a mess,'' Magee said. ''The overhead baggage compartment doors flew open. The ceiling panels danced around. Some of them were hanging out ... and right in front of me an oxygen mask fell down.''
''We hit the ground very, very hard,'' he said.
The plane aborted the landing and flew to San Antonio, where the passengers got off the plane and were sent to Harlingen by bus, said airline spokesman Al Becker. The plane proceeded to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport without passengers, picked up more passengers and headed to Denver.
In Denver, a ''fist-size'' hole was found in the belly of the Boeing 727 aircraft, which was taken out of service, Ms. Cook said.
Becker said the airline would await a federal investigation to see if the safety of passengers or the aircraft were jeopardized because of the hole.
Becker said federally required ''walk-around'' inspections of the plane were done in San Antonio and Dallas, but no one saw the hole. It was spotted by a flight engineer doing a routine inspection in Denver on Sunday.
Yellow paint believed to be from one of the light stanchions was found near the hole, Ms. Cook said.