NEWARK, NJ — 34 People were sitting aboard a US Airways flight when it made a dramatic emergency belly landing at Newark Airport due to trouble with the landing gear.
Linda Demarest was one of them and never thought this could happen to her.
“Thought it was it. We were going down. We were basically, it was a controlled crash, but it was a plane crash. You hear on the news all the time, not many people survive plane crashes. That was my thought.”
The mother of two said she was exhausted as she was making her way back home to New Jersey after training for her new nursing job in Dallas.
The flight was going smoothly until…
“The captain comes out of the cockpit with a flashlight and then he starts looking at the wing. At this point everyone on the plane knew something was going to happen.”
Moments later, the crew confirmed her worst fears.
“The flight attendant told us that there’s something mechanical problem. And you could see the flaps opening for the landing gear on the right side but the left side, the flap would not open.
Demarest’s first thought — contact her family.
“I wrote to my husband, ‘We can’t land. One landing gear went down. They are trying to fix it before we make an emergency landing.’ Then I wrote to him, ‘No announcement from the pilot yet. I love you.’ And then I wrote, ‘We are crashing.’ And that’s when I turned off the phone. I kept thinking of my kids and my husband. I could cry…that they were too young to lose me. Then I thought back about 9/11. How family’s left messages for their loved ones. So I texted each one of them that I love them and I turned off the phone not knowing.”
What she heard next, she said she will never forget…
“So about 200 feet before we hit, the captain comes back on the speaker, yelling, ‘Crash! Crash! Crash! Crash!’ While she’s yelling, ‘Stay in position! Head down! Keep positions! Head down!’ So we’re like this on the back of our seats.”
With sparks flying, the cabin of the turboprop quickly filled with smoke. Emergency shoots deployed, passengers evacuated and the plane was quickly foamed.
Demarest said those minutes felt like a lifetime.
“I just kept saying to myself, ‘stop, stop, stop, stop, please stop.’ And then when you finally stop it’s like, ‘ah…” elation. You made it.”
US Airways said nobody on the plane was injured, but Demarest said for her and her family, the gravity of what happened still hasn’t sunk in.
“I was joking with someone, ‘I should have played the mega millions.’ But then I thought, you know what, I already won. So, I don’t need to play. I have my family.”