Published November 14, 2013
Every traveler’s worst nightmare reportedly became reality aboard a recent Southwest Airlines flight to North Carolina, where passengers endured a stomach-dropping nosedive thousands of feet in the air.
A woman on flight from Tampa, Fla., to Raleigh-Durham International Airport on Tuesday told ABC11 that the pilot told passengers the plane was going down.
“He said, ‘We’re going down.’ And everyone is looking around like, is this a joke? Is he serious? And then you felt the nosedive,” passenger Shelley Wills said.
Wills, a nurse who said the frightening drop occurred as the plane was about 100 miles away from the airport, tried helping the first-time flier seated next to her as other passengers pulled out cellphones in desperate last-minute attempts to contact loved ones. Wills texted her daughter and husband, but the messages were not sent.
“It says, ‘I love you Alyssa. My plane is going down,” Wills said. “I thought I was going to die and that’s what everyone on that plant thought; that we were all going to die, just by one word of the captain. I just think they could have handled it a little differently.”
Miraculously, the Boeing 737 leveled out minutes later and made an emergency landing at Raleigh-Durham International Airport.
“And the last words were thank you for hanging with us,” Wills said.
In a statement, Southwest Airlines officials said Flight 3426 experienced a “maintenance alert” that was resolved at 25,000 feet.
“Throughout the remainder of the descent the flight was normal, landed uneventfully, and was not met by emergency vehicles,” the statement read.
The maintenance alert was related to irregular cabin pressure, ABC11 reports. The FAA is now investigating.