‘It was going to be the trip of a lifetime’: Texas plane crash survivors describe ‘miracle’ escape from burning private jet

All 18 passengers and three crew escaped safely from the aircraft when it ran off a Houston runway on Tuesday while ferrying baseball fans to a major game in Boston

Independent Staff
Thursday 21 October 2021 00:31
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21 people escape relatively unharmed after plane crashes after takeoff in Texas

The survivors of a terrifying plane crash in Texas on Tuesday morning have described how they slipped out of the burning aircraft moments before it was consumed by flames.

All 18 passengers and three crew escaped safely from the plane when it ran off the runway at Houston Executive Airport in what one expert described as “one of those miraculous crashes”.

The plane was owned by local property magnate and prolific rodeo patron James Alan Kent and ferrying baseball fans to Boston for a hotly-anticipated game between the Red Sox and the Houston Astros.

One passenger, who asked not to be named, told the TV news channel KHOU-11: "It was going to be the trip of a lifetime and then I came to a quick halt. Going down the runway, just all the sudden they slammed on the brakes.

“Things were flying around, and when it finally came to a stop, they just said, 'get out, get out!' We unbuckled ourselves and ran as far away as we could, because we thought it was going to explode.”

Remnants of the crashed aircraft on Tuesday 19 October 2021

He said the plane was so hot that it singed the hair on the passengers’ hands.

Cheryl McCaskill, who was invited into the group by her boyfriend, told the Houston Chronicle she was “shaky and shocked” after the incident, and lost her shoes during the escape.

“When it finally stopped everyone went ‘get out! get out! get out!’” she said. “We jumped out on that inflatable thing and then everyone went ‘Get away!’”.

She added that she was not planning to fly in the near future, saying: “I am done with it.”

In a statement, Mr Kent said: "Thankfully, everyone used the emergency slides to exit and make it to safety before a fire consumed the plane. There was a minor injury sustained by a passenger going down the slide but thank God that there was no loss of life.”

A spokesperson added: “We are extremely grateful that there were no fatalities or serious injuries. We will be working with the FAA and the NTSB to ensure that we are complying with all of their requirements.”

The cause of the crash is unknown, but officials suggested that the plane had suffered an error and failed to pull up when pilots attempted to lift off the runway.

Plane crashes into fireball outside Texas

First built in 1987 as a commercial aircraft, the plane was converted for VIP use in 2015, and had been outfitted by Mr Kent with a bedroom, large seats, couches and conference tables.

Unable to leave the ground, and likely laden with fuel for the 1,600-mile trip to Boston, the pilots steered it off the end of the concrete, through the grass, across a road and into a field.

The plane then caught fire, apparently in an explosion. Chelsea Alfaro, a construction worker who was nearby, told KHOU-11: “I happened to hear a boom and I looked back and the truck shook a little bit and I could see big orange flames up in smoke.

“I didn’t really see much of the plane go down but I did see the boom and I felt the explosion.”

It is unclear whether that sound came before or after the escape, but the passengers would have had very little time to evacuate before suffering injury or death.

Investigators will now comb through air traffic control logs, maintenance records, the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder, as well as the crash site itself.

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