Passengers aboard a United Airlines flight from Vancouver, Canada to Chicago got the fright of a lifetime when the airplane’s pilots performed some emergency maneuvers to avoid colliding mid-air with a smaller aircraft.
The Canadian Press spoke to one passenger aboard United Airlines Flight 246 who said there was some shrieking aboard the 737 Boeing as the right wing dropped without warning and the aircraft banked aggressively to the right. At the time, however, passengers didn’t know why the airplane suddenly went into a terrifying bank to the right and steep climb.
According to The Canadian Press, the pilot of the United Airlines flight visually spotted a glider plane in its path in the skies above Rockford, Illinois, about 75 miles from its destination, Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.
Glider planes are motorless and depend on gravity and currents to stay aloft. The aircraft reportedly had no navigational instruments onboard.
The pilot of the United Airlines flight was able to narrowly avoid a collision with the glider. There was no contact between the two aircraft and the United plane safely landed about 15 minutes later with a cabin full of jittery but relieved passengers, witnesses said.
Once the plane was on the ground, the pilot announced to the cabin what had happened. Witnesses said the passengers clapped.
United Airlines said in a statement that the flight arrived at O’Hare “and all passengers deplaned normally after the pilots were required to deviate from the aircraft’s normal flight path because they spotted a glider.”
The airline also said it was “following up with air traffic control to do a complete review of what happened.”
The Daily Herald reported that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said it would be investigating the incident.