A youngster described on social media how “something was on fire” on a harrowing United Airlines flight Friday over the Pacific Ocean that the FAA said was forced to land on Midway Island because of an electrical odor on board.
The United Airlines plane, carrying 335 passengers and 13 crew on a Boeing 777, was flying from Honolulu to Guam when it was forced to land and spend seven hours on the Pacific atoll, said United spokeswoman Mary Clark. A replacement aircraft later carried everyone back to Hawaii on Friday, she said.
When explicitly asked Saturday whether the disturbing smell was smoke or something burning, Clark described the incident as an odor in the cabin.
But one passenger, a minor, tweeted about parts of the incident, including how the “flight attendant said there’s a burning smell in the cockpit…. (expletive) what?”
At one point, the plane dipped dramatically, he said.
“(T)he lights kept going on and off randomly and the plane dipped hella fast, I’m like holy (expletive) I’m about to die, I was shaking…,” the youth wrote. CNN isn’t identifying the minor.
The flight attendants were scared too, he said. He also videotaped how passengers were sweltering on the plane apparently after the emergency landing.
An odor emanated even before the plane took off, but the jet took flight any way and “about 3 hours into the flight the plane smelled like gas and … turns out something was on fire but they didn’t know what,” the youngster wrote on Twitter.
“The pilots lost their radar, their map, and their radar and their electricity was going out but they didn’t tell us to keep us calm,” the youth tweeted, without explaining how he came to know the information.
United is now investigating the plane, a Boeing 777, a new jetliner that’s one of most sophisticated in aviation, Clark said Saturday.
United couldn’t comment on further details — such as the purported radar failure — because its investigation is ongoing, Clark said.
‘Life was flashing before my eyes’
The youngster wondered where the plane could possibly land while crossing the world’s largest ocean.
“There are no…airports in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, where are we landing??” he tweeted.
It was Midway Island, a U.S. territory better known as home to a World War II battle.
“Eventually after heeelllaa turbulence we took an emergency landing at an island, an old military base I think,” the youth wrote.
“Sadly, nothing brings people together more than tragedy y’all. Lol my damn life was flashing before my eyes,” he wrote.
His video showed passengers fanning themselves with leafs of paper inside the cabin, apparently after the plane landed.
In the video, a voice on the intercom tells the passengers: “Midway is no
t an island that has hotels and things. It’s just a diversion airport. What they’re offering is they have gymnasium here that you can all go to if you like and they have chairs and things. We can put you there until we figure out what exactly is going on. They will open up their stores so you can get something to eat.”
The video then show passengers getting off the plane and walking the tarmac in the middle of the night.
Inside the gym, passengers sat on chairs or rested on the floor.
At the end of the video, the passengers cheered when addressed by a man in the top bleachers. Apparently, they were about to get off the island.
A new flight, 2105, flew the passengers to Guam, where they landed Saturday, Clark said.
FAA spokesman Allen Kenitzer described the odor aboard the plane as an “electrical smell” in the cabin or cockpit.