Passengers Run From Smoking Plane at Philly Int'l

By Kelly Bayliss and Dan Stamm
|  Friday, Mar 14, 2014  |  Updated 10:50 AM PDT
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Passengers were forced to flee a US Airways flight at Philadelphia International Airport after a mechanical failure.

NBC10, Dennis Fee

Passengers were forced to flee a US Airways flight at Philadelphia International Airport after a mechanical failure.

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Passengers ran from a US Airways flight that was forced to abort takeoff on its way from Philadelphia to Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Thursday evening.

"There was a lot of screaming and crying," passenger Dennis Fee said as he described the chaos that ensued in the moments following an emergency aboard US Airways Flight 1702.

As quickly as the A320 Airbus lifted off at 6:25 p.m., it came crashing back down.

"As we first hit the ground, flight attendants were yelling to keep our heads down," said Fee.

  • Plane evacuation 'selfie'

    The aircraft was leaving from Philadelphia International Airport when it experienced a mechanical failure that forced the nose of the plane into the ground, according to airline officials.

    "I just sort of held onto the seat and tried not to panic," Fee said.

    Airport officials say the front wheel of the aircraft blew out, causing the front of the plane to crash into the runway.

    At the time of the emergency evacuation, 149 passengers and five crew members were aboard, according to airport officials.

    Emergency crews were able to evacuate the plane safely through traditional and emergency exits.

    Only two people on the grounded flight required treatment for minor injuries.

    Rachel Silverman described the scary ordeal to her mother.

    "She smelled gas and was very nervous," said the mom of the 23-year-old passenger. "She thought the plane was going to explode."

    Silverman, who was flying solo to a wedding in Florida, is unsure if she feels comfortable flying out right now, but Fee is looking forward to making his way to the Sunshine State with friends.

    "I think as we make our way down the runway, I'll be a little worried, but once we're up, I'll be fine. I'm just excited to get to Florida."

    Most passengers from the evacuated plane boarded a new aircraft that departed Philadelphia for Florida around 11:45 p.m. That flight landed safely in Fort Lauderdale after 2 a.m.

    Some passengers opted to stay put in Philly.

    "I just want to go home to my husband and my dogs -- my family," said Marjorie Castaldi.

    Flights at Philly International were temporarily grounded, but resumed shortly after all passengers were safe inside the terminal.

    Crews worked through the night to right the plane. Around 4:30 a.m. Friday they began to move the plane from the runway with the assistance of other vehicles. The investigation continued as the plane sat at the edge of the airport before being placed in a hanger.

    The runway where the crash happened remained closed for hours more. Around 7 a.m., crews and sweeper trucks began to remove debris from the runway.

    The National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration will investigate the incident.

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