Jet makes emergency landing on way to St. Pete - WFLA News Channel 8

Jet makes emergency landing on way to St. Pete

Posted: Updated:
Courtesy April Mapes Courtesy April Mapes
ST PETERSBURG, FL (WFLA) -

A flight from Cedar Rapids to the Bay area made an emergency landing in Albany, GA Sunday night.  The 155 passengers finally arrived to the St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport Monday morning around 10 o'clock.

Allegiant Air Flight #863 left the Eastern Iowa Airport Sunday night at 6:15 Central Time.  Two hours and 9 minutes in the flight, a cargo fire warning light came on in the cockpit, according to a statement from the FAA. The pilot decided to divert the flight and land at the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport.

"It was an abrupt stop.  He put down the plane and brought it to a stop very quickly," passenger April Mapes told News Channel 8 in an email while she rode on a bus back to the Bay area.

The passengers and six crew members had to exit the MD-83 plane on an emergency slide.

"We knew something was wrong.  I looked out the window and I though there's no water.  We're not in St. Pete," said passenger Sue McDowell.  "They said run and get as far away from the plane as you can.  So from 8:45 until almost 11 o'clock we were out in that field."

The FAA said there was no fire and no one was injured.  They're now investigating what caused the warning light to go off.

Kristi Bonser, who was traveling with her 4-year-old son Brody, called the whole ordeal very traumatic.

"I think I was crying and he said ‘Don't worry momma.  I'll be brave for you'.  All I could think was well we're gonna hit the tarmac and maybe this is the last time I'll see my kid," said Bonser.

Allegiant Air arranged for charters buses and limos to pick up the passengers and their luggage.  They left Albany about five hours after their landing for the five-hour drive to St. Petersburg.  The passengers were fed pizza and donuts while they waited.

A spokesman for Allegiant Air says all of the affected passengers on Flight #863 will get a full refund and a $200 credit for use on a future flight.

Bonser said it could be awhile before she and her son take them up on the offer.

"I asked him if he was going to ride on a plane again and he said probably not," she explained.

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