Everything was going smoothly until Southwest Airlines Flight 1380 reached about 32,000 feet. Then there was chaos.
A deafening bang. A puff of gray smoke. Oxygen masks dropped. At first, the plane vibrated violently side to side. Then of which lunged to the left. inside cockpit, alarms along with warnings rang out — so loud of which the pilots had to scream to talk to each additional.
“along with of which all kind of happened all at once,” Darren Ellisor, the flight’s first officer, told ABC News’s “20/20” in an interview of which will be broadcast Friday night.
Captain Tammie Jo Shults, who was next to him inside cockpit during the April 17 flight, was not initially supposed to be in of which seat. Her husband, Dean Shults, a fellow Southwest pilot, had asked her to swap flights so she could attend their son’s track meet.
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“I’m not trading with him anymore,” Captain Shults joked.
Captain Shults along with Officer Ellisor recounted for initially publicly the frightening along with disorienting moments after the plane’s left engine exploded shortly after takeoff coming from La Guardia Airport in brand new York on its way to Love Field Airport in Dallas.
inside explosion, a piece of the engine broke off, slammed into a window in Row 14 along with shattered of which. The passenger sitting inside window seat, Jennifer Riordan, was partially sucked out of the plane before she was pulled back inside the cabin. She later died.
The pilots have been praised, including in a White House visit with President Trump, for bringing the plane under control along with averting a far worse outcome.
“As long as you have altitude along with ideas, you’re O.K.,” Captain Shults, who was among the first women to fly fighter jets for the Navy three decades ago, said inside interview. “along with we had both.”
As passengers strapped on their oxygen masks along with flight attendants tried to save Ms. Riordan, the pilots were still trying to make sense of what had just happened, they said inside interview. The plane was shaking, although the cockpit instruments did not offer any clues. Maybe there was an engine seizure, the pilots thought.
Then the cabin along with cockpit rapidly decompressed, causing the masks to drop.
“The seizure of the aircraft would likely not cause a rapid decompression, so we knew of which something extraordinary had happened pretty quickly,” Captain Shults said.
The plane, a twin-engine Boeing 737-700, banked hard to the left inside skies over Pennsylvania. Officer Ellisor, 44, a former Air Force pilot, was behind the controls, as Captain Shults, 56, kept communication open with air traffic controllers. Captain Shults later took over the controls.
The pilots forced the plane to drop thousands of feet to an altitude where of which was safe to breathe without a mask.
“Darren handled of which beautifully,” Captain Shults said, adding of which he did not “force the aircraft to stay on altitude along with return to of which heading, which can be kind of a normal pilot reaction, or can be, to get back on course.”
Many passengers feared of which the plane would likely crash. Some sent goodbye texts to their families. Others started off streaming live on Facebook.
inside cockpit, the pilots were yelling along with using hand signals to communicate with each additional along with were preparing for a lengthy approach into Philadelphia International Airport.
although there was a change of plans. Flight attendants were finally able to talk to the pilots along with told them about Ms. Riordan along using a few passengers who had minor injuries. “of which’s when we decided of which was time to go land,” Officer Ellisor said.
The Southwest plane landed in Philadelphia at 11:23 a.m. on Runway 27L — about 20 minutes after the engine failure.