Last year, when then-Senator Obama was busy criss-crossing the country in support of his presidential bid, he ran into some trouble on one of his flights. At the time, we were told that it wasn’t a big deal and, of course, it landed safely. But now as more details come out, things appear to have been somewhat more serious.
The President was on an MD-80 chartered from Midwest Airlines. The only thing unique about this airplane is that it was actually flown by Midwest – that’s more rare than seeing a panda in the wild. As the plane was climbing, the crew had trouble controlling the airplane’s pitch (nose up attitude), so they ended up diverting to St Louis. Here’s what the President would have felt:
It should be noted that while 16 to 20 degrees is normal, some flights do reach 25 degrees. So this wasn’t completely out of the ordinary at 26.8 degrees, but it could have gotten much worse had the crew not been able to stabilize the plane.
What happened? Well, in the tail of the MD-80, there is an emergency exit. On this particular flight, the slide at that exit inflated and pressed on the cables controlling the elevators. The elevators are used to make the plane go up and down, so this pressure made the plane go up a little too much. The pilots did regain control, and once they descended, things seemed to go back to normal and they landed safely.
There has only been two other incidents remotely like this one in the past, and one of those happened on the ground, so this is a very rare occurrence. Still, that must have been one wild ride.