News & Politics

Southwest Grounding 79 Planes After Hole Incident


Southwest is grounding 79 members of its fleet after a 3- or 4-foot hole tore open in the fuselage of a plane traveling from Phoenix to Sacramento. It had to make an emergency landing at a military base. The grounded planes are being inspected for something called “aircraft skin fatigue.”

The hole was caused (they think) by “depressurization” and “structural failure,” both of which sound intimidating and scary.

A first-person account:

“We were in shock,” passenger Debbie Downey told CNN Saturday. “We were in row 16 and my husband and I could see blue sky … the wiring, the cabling. It actually was terrifying.”

She said “a lot of people were crying and holding hands” but had trouble hearing due to the noise of air rushing through the plane’s opening. “It was very, very scary.”

Air travel is crazy these days. First you you have to remove your shoes and belt and shuffle through the metal detector hoping they don’t notice that you left your shampoo in your suitcase, then people grope you a lot, then your plane rips open in the sky. It’s a zoo!

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 2, 2011


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