Jon's notes on flight KA991 on 3/30/08, DragonAir Airbus 330 from Beijing to Hong Kong yesterday..
- Retta, Jack, Jonah, Maddie Rae, Mammy and Granddude (Retta's parents) and I took off at 1:30p. We heard a loud grinding noise and vibration about 45min into the flight. Smoke filled the cabin with a burning smell, the loudspeaker told us to duck our heads down to avoid inhaling the fumes. Oxygen masks dropped from the ceiling. After about 20 minutes of wondering what was going on, bumping through the air, and breathing through the oxygen masks, the pilot finally announced a left engine 'stall' and loss of all oil in engine. He said that we would head back to Beijing on only the right engine. Long tense descent. Lots of talk about preparation for the 'Happier Place' and that we were glad 'we were together.' Turbulent and twisting on hard right rudder. Jack was very scared, crying, confused. Jonah put oxygen mask on and fell asleep after asking for a lollipop. Retta and I both trying to calm Jack and not lose it ourselves. I went back and forth in my mind about 5 times trying to decide if this was actually going to be it or not.
- The pilot landed the plane safely. Everyone very relieved to get out. We saw the damaged engine on way out (photo). But were then crammed into buses for trip back to airport. Buses pulled next to gates but would not let us out. Lady faints next to us. Others were very nervous and banging on glass. Security/airport workers made eye contact then passed by and ignored us. DragonAir bus driver would not answer repeated calls/knocks/bangs to let us out and help sick woman. So I started tearing down the bus door. After a total of 45min standing on the bus, the doors opened and passengers exited into airport. Originally two rumored options, one to take late flight at 10pm, the other was to cancel and stay in Beijing. Mass chaos. No info. Soon DragonAir reps disappear with no guarantee of anything. Finally after several hours the airplane meals were handed out. Then another few hours and we had instructions from Cathay Pacific rep. The flight back to HKG took off just before 10p and were home at 3:00am.
- All thanked God for how it ended
Click here to see Chinese news report. It's all in Chinese, but you can see the inside of the plane after it landed and Retta's feet, Nala's tail, and a brief glimpse of Maddie Rae as they descended onto solid ground after landing.
View after landing - Buses being packed with people on right
Relief after getting out of plane and bus, however still not sure how to get to HK