NEW YORK (WCBS 880/AP) — With a flight attendant yelling “heads down, stay down,” passengers cowered and prayed on a tense descent into John F. Kennedy International Airport as malfunctioning landing gear sent sparks flying and left one of the plane’s wings dragging along the tarmac.
“They handled it in such a way that I think all of us said, ‘okay, we gotta do what we gotta do,’ but nobody panicked,” Pfeiffer told 1010 WINS reporter Sonia Rincon.
No one was hurt Saturday evening when Delta Connection Flight 4951, operated by Atlantic Southeast Airlines, made its emergency landing on its way to White Plains, N.Y., from Atlanta, said Port Authority of New York and New Jersey spokesman Steve Coleman.
“I could feel the vibration, I could feel it bumping,” passenger Jamie Pfeiffer of Bridgewater, Conn., told the Journal News of White Plains about the right wing scraping the ground during the rough landing. “I heard a guy behind me say he saw sparks. The pilot was just awesome.”
Video captured by a passenger and shown on the website of the Daily News shows a tensely quiet cabin in the seconds before the words “brace for impact” came over the jet’s loudspeaker. After the warning, a flight attendant can be heard yelling “heads down, stay down” again and again.
The right gear of the plane was stuck and would not deploy, the pilot told air traffic control, according to a recording monitored by the newspaper and captured on the website LiveATC.net, which is devoted to controller talk.
“The wing was just scraping along the ground,” passenger Carol Otto of Fishkill told the Journal News.
All 60 passengers exited safely through the main door onto the tarmac and were bused to the terminal, said Atlantic Southeast Airlines spokesman Jarek Beem. The airline was working with the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board to investigate the landing gear problem, he said.
“I’ve never prayed so hard in my whole life,” Loretta Hill, 39, of Milford, Conn., told the Daily News. “I was just crying and praying to God that we would be okay.”
“The pilots and them did an excellent job,” Hill said. “They kept everybody calm.”
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)