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Murfreesboro man speaks out about hole in plane

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Erin O’Donovan, the woman sitting next to Murfreesboro resident Steve Hall on Southwest Flight 2294, took this picture of a hole in the planes fuselage that forced an emergency landing Monday afternoon.
A routine business trip to Pittsburg took a turn for the worse for Steve Hall on Monday, when a football-sized hole opened in the fuselage of the Southwest Airlines flight he was on.

About 45 minutes into the flight from Nashville to Baltimore, the Murfreesboro resident heard a loud pop and wind rushing.

“It was a normal flight until this loud popping. We knew that it wasn’t a normal noise,” he said. Then the oxygen masks dropped from the ceiling as the cabin lost pressure.

And, like most airline passengers, he didn’t pay attention to the preflight instructions. But after flying between 20-30 times a year for work, he knew how to put the mask on.

“Fortunately, its one of those things that comes pretty natural,” he said.

Hall said the hole was above his seat and to the left, but all he could make out was a crack of sunlight peeking through, where no sun should shine.

The flight crew of five took control of the situation and helped the 126 passengers with their oxygen masks, Hall said.

He noted the passengers remained calm, but there was “a lot of nervous energy” in the cabin as the plane made an emergency landing in Charleston, W.Va.

After landing and a ceiling tile pressed against the hole fell away, he said he got a good look at the 1 foot-by-1-foot hole in the plane.

“I’m glad it wasn’t as tragic as it sounds,” Hall said.

Hall’s not letting this experience inspire a fear of flying either. In fact he flew back to Nashville this morning.

“I told my wife last night what are the odds of that happening again I’m not that lucky of a person,” he said with a laugh.

Michelle Willard can be contacted at 615-869-0816 or mwillard@murfreesboropost.com.
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Members Opinions:
July 14, 2009 at 8:19am
Dang...Southwest was one of the few left that I would consider flying.
July 14, 2009 at 10:14am
I'd fly SWA all day long, but their recent maintenance issues do concern me. Overall I trust them a lot, though.

I take a lot of comfort from the fact that Boeing aircraft came back from missions in WWII with giant holes blown in them and were still flying.

As a side note, this hole is a great illustration of why one should always wear the seatbelt when seated.
July 14, 2009 at 4:36pm
The recent maintenance problems were so overblown by the new leaders of the FAA, pure grandstanding. The missing inspections they speak of come down to mere inches that were missed on the entire surface of the fuselage. I am a aircraft mechanic and have read the final outcome and cannot believe the fine that was sent down. Once the media get a hold of something like this it gets blown way out of shape. The metal failure is always a concern but the design of the aircraft keeps the hole from getting too large. It worked as advertised on this plane. Don't be afraid to fly, more people die walking than flying. Southwest is one of the safest carriers in the history of aviation.
July 14, 2009 at 5:14pm
Hole or no hole, I'd fly Southwest any day. IMO, they're still one of the better airlines out there!
July 14, 2009 at 10:14pm
I'd felt a lot safer if everyone had a "gun" up there.........
July 15, 2009 at 1:12pm
canalou, lots of times there are guns in the plane. Pilot, first officers, air marshals, etc, etc. Feel better now?
July 16, 2009 at 8:27am
The fact that this emergency was handled so well by SWA just reinforces my belief in that airline. I've traveled for business for the last several years, and quite frankly, I'll pick a Southwest flight, even if I wind up having to drive a little more at the end of the flight. The others just DO NOT compare with their delays, cancellations, poor customer service...the list goes on. Heck, I wouldn't be surprised if the hole was sabotage by one of the other airlines!

And Canalou, I liked your sarcasm about the gun. Tennessee made the Colbert Report last night about guns in bars. Needless to say, we didn't fare well.
July 16, 2009 at 9:54am
Canalou....you are quickly loosing credibility by posting liberal gun comments on every story no matter the subject. If you are so worried about a gun free society you may want to look at moving outside of the United States of America.
July 16, 2009 at 4:08pm
This is to chad4930. Thanks for your response. Your positive feedback makes flying more inviting. Especially after this incident.
July 17, 2009 at 7:25am
Canalou, read your history. Look what happened in Germany when Hitler took over. One of the first things he did was make it illegal for any citizen, other than military or police, to own any kind of firearm. Then came the book burnings, and ethnic cleansing.
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