White Knuckled Flight

December 12, 2007

in Weather Stories

I was “lucky” enough to be on a NWA flight from Mpls, MN, that took off for Sioux Falls, SD, in spite of the fact that the flight had been delayed due to storms and despite the fact that there were some 57 tornados in and around Sioux Falls that night! As we were coming in for a landing, the plane flew into the edge of a tornado. The wind shear sent the plane nose-diving toward the ground; people were screaming; I saw the left wing of the plane perpendicular to the ground–not a good thing!

The captain revved the engines to full power trying to pull the nose up, to no avail. The second time she revved the engines, the nose of the plane caught an updraft and the captain was able to avert a crash. We were, I believe, seconds from crashing (and this was confirmed later by people on the ground who saw this whole incident).

The plane was diverted to Omaha, NE, and grounded because the engines had overheated so much from trying to pull the nose up out of the dive. There were no rental cars to be had; I finally got a hotel room and arrived in Sioux Falls the following day on a flight on another airline. Total flight time from MS to SD was some 28-30 hours! When I later tried to recoup the cost of my hotel, NWA refused, saying they were not responsible for the weather!! I will say one thing, though: that female flight captain did an amazing job of averting a crash–even though that flight should NEVER have taken off that night.

Signed, Sue M., Pass Christian, MS

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Bob May 27, 2008 at 12:55 pm

uuum, I doubt that your plane hit the edge of a tornado… You probably wouldn't be writing that if it did…


nn November 18, 2008 at 3:36 pm

uuum, I think she said people on the ground saw the whole thing.


Mike R. December 17, 2008 at 10:15 am

uuum, sounds like yet another post by shakintheignorance


tina April 2, 2009 at 10:46 am

57 tornadoes in one night near Sioux Falls? I'm sure that would have been on the news, and under those conditions planes would not be aloud to depart the airport.


flown often April 2, 2009 at 12:45 pm

What is great about the pilot? They have radar to be able to avoid any tornados. If the weather was that bad before the flight. the pilot also had to option herself of aborting the flight.


ac April 2, 2009 at 1:02 pm

A quick search on google will bring up an article from usatoday. They report 67 tornados in the area.

http://www.usatoday.com/travel/n…ado- landing.htm


Lynx636 April 2, 2009 at 6:40 pm

Horrible. When did this happen? I hope they have better radar now, if it was back in the '90's or something. Glad the pilot had the skill to get the plane down safely. Tornado cells are very unpredictable if you don't have Doppler radar, and the tower probably told her it was safe to land.


Lynx636 April 2, 2009 at 6:48 pm

OK, I just read the USA Today report. Amazing. Thanks for posting that, ac .


Teddy April 2, 2009 at 8:57 pm

Sioux City…that would probably mean you were flying a commuter jet

Must have been scary as hell


Joe Mama April 9, 2009 at 5:35 am

According to the article it was a DC-9. I'd probably have been pissed at the pilot for trying to land in a storm and at the same time grateful for her flying skills for not crashing.


Joe Mama April 10, 2009 at 1:12 pm

Actually, after reading the rest of the article, in particular the transcript between plane & tower, I'd be pissed at the flight crew for going in for a landing when the tower crew tells them they're heading for shelter due to a tornado. Looks like they had ample warning of bad weather.


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