Details of Obama’s Wild Plane Ride

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:

Obama's Wild Ride

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.


14 Responses to Details of Obama’s Wild Plane Ride

  1. Axelsarki says:

    Interesting post, CF. I did the media talk about it? Because i did not see the media talking about it and then getting into the MD 80 itself (Like always.)

  2. Do you know if the pilots were able to immediately assess the cause via a cockpit indicator – or at least become aware after leveling out the plane?

    If they were unaware of WHY it was happening I would imagine the first thoughts might be related to the control problems of Alaska 261’s painful last hour – (an MD-83) which would be frightening indeed.

  3. David SFeastbay says:

    Well maybe if all the dogs on Pet Airways start scratching themselves at the same time, they can get the plane to bounce. :-)

  4. Do you know for sure that this is true? Is weird that the press did not say anithing about this…

  5. Dave says:

    This was widely covered by the press. The plane had been used by Hilary before BO used it. I think he only used it for a few days while his plane underwent maintenance. Google it.

  6. Hmm… I’d be curious about bringing a level on a flight. These pitches always seem more extreme than they really are…

  7. CF says:

    Axel/Carribean – Yes, as Dave says, it was widely covered by the press, but when it happened last year, they didn’t know the extent of the problem.

    James – In the post, I linked to the actual NTSB report, and it’s an interesting read and it talks about what they knew and what they didn’t. I imagine they were having some bad thoughts running through their heads.
    http://ntsb.gov/ntsb/brief2.asp?ev_id=20080808X01189&ntsbno=CHI08IA182&akey=1

  8. ICUDoc says:

    Gee – you mean if it had crashed the country would be spared the Messiah’s trashing of the country??

  9. CF says:

    ICUDoc – I should have known this would descend into some stupid political jab at some point. I would be very careful about advocating for the death of our president regardless of your political sensibilities. If you’re not happy, that’s what elections are for.

  10. ICUDoc says:

    Hey – I can dream, can’t I?

  11. Hmm. If this were my blog I’d grab the IP address of the user in question, and promptly hand it to the FBI.

    Although, I admit I wasn’t quite kind to GWB..

  12. Err, lack of sugar brain fart.. The Secret Service, not the FBI.

  13. ICUDoc says:

    You guys are way too sensitive – all I did was make an observation – that if the plane HAD crashed – Obama would not be president today – is that true or not true?

  14. Amazing, really, I havee google it and yes, the press covered, but as I do not live in the states, i did not hear about it…

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