Commercial airliners are engineered to fly safely through all kinds of weird weather, from torrential rain to all sorts of wind patterns. Sometimes, though, they meet their match in the form of a freak thunderstorm. Passengers on a recent American Airlines flight can tell you all about that in terrifying detail after their plane was bombarded by a storm so forceful it obliterated the windshield and nose mid-air, setting off a turbulent panic in the cabin and forcing an emergency landing.
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Passengers aboard an American Airlines plane bound for Phoenix from San Antonio were treated to the fright of their lives on Sunday night, when their flight flew directly into a violent storm over New Mexico. It proved to be an unwise move, as the storm delivered a torrent of lightning, strong winds, and hail forceful enough to decimate the plane's nose and crack the entire windshield, rendering it nearly impossible for the pilots to see in front of them. Fortunately, the plane safely diverted to El Paso, but the whole ordeal involved some exceptionally wild turbulence to the degree that many of the 130 passengers and five crew members totally freaked out.
"It was by far one of the most terrifying experiences that I've ever been through," passenger Jesus Esparza told the San Antonio CBS affiliate. He also described that at one point the plane dropped so far and fast that it felt "like a rollercoaster."
Other passengers echoed that sentiment, and described quite a chaotic scene, with drinks splashing, cell phones flying everywhere, and people taking full advantage of the vomit bags. "I could see people starting to panic and crying and I couldn't breathe," one anonymous passenger told Arizona's ABC15.
Naturally, the incident has people wondering why the hell the plane flew into such a dangerous storm, especially since it was clearly visible on the radar. On Twitter, a few meteorologists were publicly confounded by the idea that any plane would be sent through that sort of thing, with one even floating the notion that the pilots could be guilty of "aeronautical malpractice" for doing so.
American Airlines put out a vaguely apologetic statement on what happened:
"American Airlines flight 1897, from San Antonio to Phoenix, diverted to El Paso due to damage sustained by weather in flight. We commend the great work of our pilots, along with our flight attendants, who safely landed the Airbus A319 at 8:03 p.m. The aircraft is currently being evaluated by our maintenance team. We never want to disrupt our customers’ travel plans, and we are sorry for the trouble this caused."
So, let this just be a reminder the next time you're mad about having to wait out a weather-related flight delay that the alternative is much, much worse (and exceptionally more puke-filled).
h/t Washington Post
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