Passengers praise Allegiant 863 crew for safe landing - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Passengers praise Allegiant 863 crew for safe landing

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© Douglas Klima and Lori Launderville, Florida passengers © Douglas Klima and Lori Launderville, Florida passengers
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ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

What was supposed to be a short flight, turned into one long, adrenaline fueled night for 155 passengers and 6 crew members aboard Allegiant Air Flight 863.

The plane made an emergency landing at the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport in Albany Sunday night, a couple of hours after departing Cedar Rapids, Iowa around 7:15PM eastern and expecting to land in St. Petersburg, Florida.

"It woke me up, so we took a big drop and coming back pretty quickly, then took a bank and ended up here just within, what, a couple of minutes?" asked Douglas Klima, Florida passenger. "Yeah," Lori Launderville, Klima's new friend responded. "It was quick."

Allegiant representatives say Pilots saw a light come on in the cockpit over an hour after departure, warning of a fire in the cargo bay area. 

Forced to land, they hit the ground safely and emergency slides were deployed as the passengers were advised to exit quickly.

"Grab nothing, just get off the plane," Klima recalled hearing from crew members. "And get away from the plane," Launderville added. "Get as far away from the plane as you can."

First responders then acted swiftly, making sure everyone was accounted for and finding no injuries.

"This is exactly what the American Red Cross is trained to do," said Lara Gill, Executive Director of the Flint River Chapter American Red Cross. "We immediately started making calls, working on getting food ready and getting supplies ready."

The passengers filled the airport, waiting on luggage, transportation and staying positive, applauding the crew for their quick and organized steps that lead them to safety.

"I mean, it's an experience to talk about, to tell the kids about," said Klima.

"I didn't have that gut feeling, that ‘oh my God'," said Launderville. "But I just thought it's going to be okay, just get off the plane."

Transportation was provided for the passengers around 2:30 am Monday morning. Their luggage was returned and they are expected to arrive in St. Petersburg around 7 am.

The cause of the incident is currently under investigation.

Stay with WALB.com for the latest as we receive more information.

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