Plane almost crashes after flying into thunderstorm near Pittsburgh 

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In early September of 2012, a small plane flying from Boston to Pittsburgh encountered a severe thunderstorm while trying to land.  The plane, filled with business workers, was on the verge of crashing.

The small United Airline’s plane was carrying passengers from a business trip in Boston to Pittsburgh on a Saturday evening. “It had about 40 people, it was practically filled,” said Jeff Karchut, the Senior Project Manager at the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh.  The plane also carried the piolet, co-piolet, and two stewardesses.  While the plane was nearing Pittsburgh, and getting ready to land, it flew right into a thunderstorm.  Outside of the plane, rain crashed, wind blew in strong gusts, and the passengers’ luggage rattled around them. The plane was in the storm for “about 15 minutes” until it flew out and away from the area.  Karchut describes the plane saying, “The engines seemed like they were struggling.  It sounded like a big fan.”  Karchut says those aboard were terrified. They kept to themselves quietly and in prayer.  He only knew two other people that were on the flight with him.  They were just as nervous as he was.  The stewardesses did not show their emotion because they were sitting in the back of the plane.

The captain tried to land the plane, but “Right at the last second the plane pulled straight up.  It was shaking and felt like it went up and down, like a fish in water,” said Karchut.  The captain realized he would not be able to land in those conditions.  He announced to the passengers that he was going to fly to Cleveland, Ohio to refuel.  While in Ohio, the passengers had to sit and wait for about an hour.  After communicating with his family members, Karchut decided he wanted to get off the plane.  He did not want to risk possibly returning to the previous conditions.  Unfortunately, during that time the passengers were not allowed to exit the plane because it was parked out on the runway instead of at the gate.  Even though people were complaining, there was no way for them to get off the plane at that time. Karchut said the extra trip added another two hours on to the over all flight.  When the plane finally returned to Pittsburgh, the storm had passed and the plane landed safely.

Those on the plane thought they were going to die.  When they landed, everyone was so grateful to be alive.  Karchut said for the next couple of months he had nightmares about crashing, and wasn’t able to sleep normally.  He is sent on business trips a few times each year.  That experience impacted the next few trips that followed.  He tried to avoid unnecessary trips for work, and made sure any flight booked was on a larger plane.  Surviving a plane ride like that has a gigantic impact on a person.  It makes him appreciate each day a little more.

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