A plume rose vertically like a ball of smoke for several seconds before a Hawaiian Airlines flight last month ran into severe turbulence and injured 25 people on board, according to a preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board.
The captain of Flight on December 18 from Phoenix to Honolulu told investigators that flight conditions were smooth with clear skies when the cloud shot in front of the plane and there was no time to change course, the report said.
He called the flight attendant in charge and told her there might be turbulence. Within one to three seconds, the plane “encountered severe turbulence,” the report said.
Shortly thereafter, the lead flight attendant told the crew that there were multiple injuries in the passenger cabin.
Of the 291 passengers and crew on board, 25 were injured, including four passengers and two crew members who were seriously injured, the report said. The aircraft sustained minor damage.
Tiffany Reyes, one of the passengers taken to hospitals, said the next day that she had just returned to her seat from the bathroom and was about to fasten her seat belt when the plane went down.
In an instant, Reyes said she found herself on the floor of the hallway, staring at dented ceiling panels and a cracked bathroom sign that was hanging.
“I asked everyone around me, ‘Was that me?'” Reyes said. “They said I apparently flew into the ceiling and hit the ground.”
Reyes said she initially thought something had hit the plane and it was crashing and that they were going to die because she had never experienced anything so violent in flight.
“This is the most terrifying experience of my entire 40 years of life,” Reyes said.
Hawaiian Airlines’ chief operating officer, John Snook, said at the time that such turbulence was unusual, noting that the airline had not experienced anything like it in recent history. The seat belt sign was on at the time.
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