Imagine you're sitting in the window seat of a long flight. Your legs are cramped, your butt is numb, and you've about had your fill of salty snacks and small cans of Ginger Ale.
You yawn, stretch, rub your eyes and think about the first thing you're going to do when you land and finally get out of the airport. But then you look out the window and notice something different about the plane's wing.
Mainly, that it's falling apart.
That's exactly what happened on a United Airlines flight that had to make an emergency landing in Honolulu, Hawaii. Parts of the wing were stripped off in mid-air, bolts went flying, and portions of the engine cover were torn off.
It left passengers with this terrifying image.
Seeing an engine exposed to the elements jostling about like the one in your '87 corolla that's on its last leg isn't exactly the most comforting sight when you're flying.
People were worried that the plane wouldn't make it to the emergency landing site.
They live-tweeted the drama as it unfolded.
HDOT: This afternoon United Airlines flight 1175 reported a mechanical issue en route to HNL. The plane landed safely with Aircraft Rescue & Fire Fighting (ARFF) personnel standing by as a precaution.— Andrew Pereira (@AP_Honolulu) February 13, 2018
This one guy said he had a "great view" of the wing falling apart, but I don't know if "great" is really the right word.
occurred 36 minutes to landing. seats 24K and 24L had a great view of the debris coming off— Erik Haddad (@erikhaddad) February 13, 2018
At least he managed to keep his sense of humor about him while it was happening.
One of the scariest parts of the whole situation is that they lost one engine on a two engine plane. Now there have been instances where 4-engines were only left with one unit and managed to finish its journey safely.
Passengers on board described what it was like when the engine began falling apart. Hint: it's poop-inducing.
Thanks, Maria. Could you see parts flying off during the flight? How long into the flight did parts start breaking off? Did the captain inform passengers what was happening? You, along with fellow passengers, must have been terrified!— Michelle Robertson (@mrobertsonsf) February 13, 2018
It was about 45 minutes until we landed. Heard a big bang and the plane started to shake violently. The pilots and crew did a great job at keeping us updated.— Maria Falaschi (@mfalaschi) February 14, 2018
But, as some people who joined in the conversation explained, losing engine covers isn't as big of a deal as some would think.
This damage is nothing to worry about; planes are designed with fail safe systems; and the Engine Cover is a Tertiary structure meaning, that if it failed it wouldn't endanger the flight or it's integrity! It's scary but nothing to worry about!— Token Black (@TokenBlack98) February 13, 2018
If it's not that big of a deal though, then why did the plane shake and freak everybody out?
What's the likely cause of the vibration? The aerodynamics after the cowling came off or the engine itself?— Ken Tindell (@kentindell) February 13, 2018
The aerodynamics for the majority; it's because the airflow is heavily disrupted by the loss of the engine cowlings! The engine also but they're insignificant compared to the airflow! The Airflow normally passes by without any heavy vibrations thanks to the cowlings!— Token Black (@TokenBlack98) February 14, 2018
To be honest, even if I knew all of these aerodynamic facts, if I was sitting in a shaking metal box up in the sky, then I'd be hysterically recording my goodbyes to loved ones on my phone.
I can’t even imagine what my reaction would have been to seeing that out my window while thousands of feet above the Pacific. 🙈 Well done to the pilots.— Maureen (@MomInStL) February 13, 2018
But thankfully the plane crew was on point and regulated the situation appropriately.
It was pretty scary. They did a great job and so did the crew!— Maria Falaschi (@mfalaschi) February 13, 2018
And, let's be honest, if you're going to have to emergency land in any city, you could do a lot worse than Honolulu.
Scary when you only have two engines. Glad you're safe.— I'm Anti-Stupid (@GrayGeek401) February 13, 2018
Island bananas and strawberry papayas. Good stuff.
Plenty of ways to relieve the stress of such a big scare in Hawaii's capital.