|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
It's harrowing enough when a commercial airliner mistakenly announces an emergency landing over water -- or, for that matter, when air passengers capture footage of an actual emergency landing on their cell phones. But passengers on a recent American Airlines flight from Miami to Boston experienced a much more vivid sense of airborne peril when a 2-foot hole opened up in the plane's fuselage about 30 minutes after takeoff.
The Boeing 757 was cruising at 31,000 feet Tuesday when the cabin began to decompress rapidly -- a "super-terrifying" experience, a passenger told WSVN-TV in Miami. The flight was carrying 154 passengers and six crew members.
But soon enough, the crew established emergency procedures: The passengers donned the oxygen masks that drop down when cabin pressure decreases, and the pilots were able to reverse the flight and land the damaged plane safely at Miami International Airport.
"The crew declared an emergency and made a normal landing. There were no injuries," American Airlines said in a rather terse statement. "The aircraft has been taken out of service."
Once the plane was on the ground, inspectors discovered the problem -- not that it was exactly easy to miss. A 2-foot-by-1-foot hole had opened just above the "A" of the logo near the plane's front left cabin door. Initial reports indicate that the plane probably took off with a smaller crack in the fuselage -- and that wind pressure caused it to expand after the jet's takeoff. However, investigators say that they have yet to isolate the precise cause of the hole. Both the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.