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John Wayne-Bound Jet Makes Emergency LAX Landing

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A Northwest Airlines flight headed for John Wayne Airport from Minneapolis was forced to make an emergency landing Friday at Los Angeles International Airport when it experienced a problem with the landing gear, authorities said.

There were no injuries among the 102 passengers and five crew members aboard Flight 111, said Northwest Airlines spokesman Doug Killian. The Airbus A320 landed at 10:50 a.m. without incident after the pilot noticed a problem with one of the plane’s hydraulics systems. It had been scheduled to arrive at John Wayne at 11:08 a.m.

The passengers were then shuttled by bus to John Wayne, arriving about 12:30 p.m.

“It was so scary that even the stewardesses were crying,” said passenger Mary Alison Berry, 29, recalling the plane’s shaking and the pilot’s reassurances that just because emergency fire crews were sitting on the runway did not mean that the plane would crash.

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As she waited for her parents to arrive at John Wayne, Berry said she heard a woman sitting behind her tearfully call her sister from a cellular phone, asking her to take care of her son if the plane did crash.

“I thought it was all over. I fly a lot, so I don’t usually get freaked out by much,” said Berry, who works for a travel agency and is moving to Orange County from Boston. “But this time, I just grabbed the pillow and held it. I was thinking, ‘Oh, God.’ ”

Berry said the passengers were relieved when the plane landed but were disoriented when they stepped off the plane into the bright lights of television news crews.

Berry and other passengers said the shuttling of the passengers to John Wayne was somewhat chaotic and disorganized. In the confusion, the passengers were not given clear directions on where to go and were afraid they might miss the shuttle buses.

One shuttle bus with five passengers on board almost had to turn back to LAX when the driver realized the airline had forgotten to give him the vouchers for their trip. The passengers told the driver they would pay for it themselves rather than add another half-hour to their already long, harrowing day, Berry said. Northwest reimbursed them the $12 fee when they arrived at John Wayne Airport.

Killian said the plane’s indication light for a problem with the landing gear’s hydraulics system went on late in the flight. Although the plane had two backup systems, the pilot still conducted an emergency landing at LAX, which has longer runways than John Wayne Airport, he said.


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