A United Airlines flight from Chicago to Orange County, Calif., was diverted to Wichita on Sunday evening after an emergency evacuation slide inflated in-flight.
About 95 passengers were aboard the Boeing 737, including Michael Schroeder who was sitting near the front of the plane.
“I heard a kind of loud pop and hissing noise and I turned around to the back and that slide that would normally go outside the plane so you can slide down in an emergency had for some odd reason deployed inside the plane while we were flying. Fortunately nobody was back there.”
The slide filled the back of the plane.
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Everyone stayed calm and started taking pictures of it with their cellphones, he said, and the pilot came on the intercom and announced he was going to land right away.
“He said ‘I’ll figure out where’ and a few minutes later he said, “We’re going to Wichita.’ ”
The flight crew said they had never seen that before, he said.
“When the pilot came out right after landing he said, ‘Oh golly, I’ve never seen that before.’ ”
No injuries were reported. The flight left Chicago at 8:36 p.m. and landed in Wichita at 10:31 p.m. The airline put passengers up at a nearby hotel and a United manager told passengers they could fly out Monday morning. At 1 a.m. several dozens passengers were still in line at the ticket counter making new travel arrangements.
“It took off on time but it sure didn’t land on time,” Schroeder said. “My theory about flying is any landing you walk away from is a good one.”
| The Wichita Eagle