On April 28th, 1988, people boarded an airplane in Hilo, Hawaii and would experience one of most eventful flights in aviation history. Just when the plane had hit its cruising altitude of 24,000 feet, it experienced an explosive decompression which tore a huge section of roof off the fuselage and caused the airplane to rapidly descend. It was carrying:
- 90 passengers
- 3 flight attendants
- 2 pilots
One person, flight attendant Clarabelle Lansing, was thrown from the plane and assumed dead (though her body was never found). The other passengers and crew miraculously survived thanks to the strong piloting of Robert Schornstheimer and Madeline Tompkins.
Photos from the event are incredible:
Amazingly, Schornstheimer piloted the aircraft for 13 minutes without a roof before it touched down in Maui without any other fatalities occurring.
65 people were injured, with 8 considered serious but in all it is considered a successful emergency landing.
Schornstheimer and Tompkins (the first officer of the plane who was actually piloting when the incident originally occurred) had to land the plane without knowing for certain if the landing gear had deployed properly.
Without being able to control the plane very well, the crew had to put their faith in the machinery that had already failed them and hope that the landing would be successful. The landing gear deployed properly and the plane landed despite descending much faster than usual.