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Schornstheimer Says Curiosity Helped Him Land Damaged Jet

May 30, 1988

MARIETTA, Ohio (AP) _ Robert Schornstheimer, who safely landed his Aloha Airlines jet last month after a section of the cabin blew away in flight, says his lifelong curiosity about machinery helped him land the plane.

As a child, Schornstheimer said, he always wanted to know what made things work.

″In some ways, I’ve prepared all my life, in that sense, for that situation,″ Schornstheimer said, referring to the April 28 accident in which the Aloha jet lost a portion of its fuselage.

One person, a flight attendant aboard the jet, was killed when she was sucked out of the plane.

″One of the impressions I had was that everything was so normal, and a fraction of a second later everything seemed slightly unreal,″ he said.

After he heard the section of the cabin blow away, he said, he looked out the door of the cockpit and saw blue sky.

″That was a really disturbing impression. We were really stunned for a second,″ the pilot said from his home in Hawaii in an interview published last week in The Marietta Times. Schornstheimer, a former Air Force pilot, graduated in 1963 from Marietta High School and later from Defiance College in Ohio.

Schornstheimer said he slowed the plane to about 200 mph and adjusted its wing flaps for a controlled descent. He said the plane shook as if it were experiencing turbulence when he tried to slow it more.

″Somewhere right in that area, it went through my mind that we wouldn’t make it,″ Schornstheimer said.

However, 13 minutes after the accident, he landed the plane safely.

Schornstheimer returned to his job on May 20.

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