Passengers on plane from Rio de Janeiro braced themselves for a crash landing at New York’s JFK Airport Wednesday after the aircraft’s nose gear deployed during its descent and the wheels were turned at a right angle.
But seconds before impact, the wheel rotated back into the correct position, and the TAM Flight 8078, which was carrying 190 passengers, landed safely, The New York Post reported.
"It was like the hand of God turned the wheel," said one Port Authority police officer on hand for the disaster-response crew. Passengers, none of whom were hurt, applauded the successful landing by Capt. Moacir de Oliveira, 58, a veteran at the airline.
"The captain kept saying, 'Be calm, keep calm. We know what we're doing,'" said one passenger, The Post reported.
Passengers described a tense scene on board as the plane made two large circles around the airport. This enabled emergency crews to be positioned and the control tower could assess the problem with the front wheel, the report said. A few passengers were crying, but flight attendants assured them they’d survive.
It was unclear how the front landing gear managed to correct itself — perhaps the jolt of the landing itself — but passengers described the landing as "perfect."