A Southwest Airlines pilot apparently announced “we’re going down” as the plane dropped, terrifying passengers even as he landed the plane safely.
The Boeing 737 was flying from Florida to Raleigh Durham, N.C., and a passenger told WTVD-TV that when the pilot said those words, passengers were unsure if he was joking
– until the plane nosedived.
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The incident occurred about 100 miles from the destination, Karen Wills told WTVD-TV. She pulled out her cell phone and texted her daughter and husband, although the messages didn’t go through.
“It says ‘I love you Alyssa. My plane is going down,’" she read to WTVD. "I thought I was going to die and that's what everyone on that plane 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."
But the airplane then leveled out and landed safely, Wills said.
CNN talked to a Southwest spokesperson who said
that Wills’s account to WTVD of what happened wasn’t right, but then the news agency obtained an email sent by the airline to another passenger that indicated the opposite.
“As the captain was communicating his plan with the flight attendants, he inadvertently activated the PA system in the cabin," the email said. "We sincerely regret any confusion caused by the relay of the information."
Wills told CNN she talked to other passengers who heard the same thing and that she stands by her account of what happened.
Many people commenting on a Yahoo article about the incident
supported the pilot.
“My guess is that he had keyed the cabin mic and was just about to announce their normal decent (sic) when he got a cabin pressure warning,” one man wrote. “In a potential depressurization scenario at 35,000 feet, you only have about 30 seconds of useful consciousness, so there is no time to react. ‘We’re going down’ wasn’t an announcement to the cabin; he was announcing to his co-pilot the action they were going to take.”
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