‘Thank you Bob’: Search for plane’s blown-out panel ended by teacher

Connie Queline

‘Thank you Bob’: Search for plane’s blown-out panel ended by teacher

US National Transportation Safety Board

Two phones and a “door plug”: these are some of the items found in Oregon days after Alaska Airlines flight 1282 lost part of its fuselage at 16,000 feet.

The Boeing 737 Max 9 made a safe emergency landing on 5 January after an outer section of the plane blew off minutes into the flight from Portland.

None of the 177 people on board were seriously injured in the incident.

But the search continues for other lost belongings and parts, thought to include a cushion from the seat immediately next to the blown-out section of fuselage – which was thankfully unoccupied.

One of the key missing items, the door plug, was found by a local school teacher named Bob, according to US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) chair Jennifer Homendy.

Investigators comb the Boeing 737 Max 9 involved in Friday's mid-air blowout for clues about what happened

NTSB

The discovery came after officials from the NTSB asked the public for help finding the door plug – a 27kg (60lb) piece of fuselage with a window, that can be used as an emergency exit in certain configurations.

They believed the door could have landed around Barnes Road, near Oregon-217 and the Cedar Hills neighbourhood, based on radar data.

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During a news conference, Ms Homendy said Bob sent in a picture of the missing piece, which ended up in his backyard in Portland.

“I can just see the outside of the door plug from the pictures, the white portions,” Ms Homendy said.

“We can’t see anything else but we’re going to go pick that up and make sure that we begin analysing it.”

“Thank you Bob,” she added.

Taking a walk near Barnes Road, another man said he found a “perfectly intact” iPhone believed to belong to a passenger.

Sharing photos of his discovery on X, formerly Twitter, game designer Seanathan Bates said the NTSB told him it was the second phone to be found.

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Mr Bates’ photos show the stretch of Barnes Road where he found the phone, along with a picture of it – no cracks to be seen, but with a broken-off piece of what used to be a white phone charger still attached to it.

He joked that it was possible that the phone’s airplane mode feature being turned on helped it survive the 16,000ft (4,876m) drop.

“It was still pretty clean, no scratches on it, sitting under a bush and it didn’t have a screen lock on it,” Mr Bates said in a TikTok video.

“I opened it up and it was on airplane mode with a travel confirmation and baggage claim for lost goods for Alaska 1282, so I had to go call the NTSB.”

The device appeared to display an email receipt for a $70 (£55) checked baggage charge for the flight.

The view of the ruptured fuselage taken once the plane landed safely

Reuters

Several passengers have described their fear during the incident, which happened shortly after take-off en route to Ontario, California.

Evan Smith, one of the 171 passengers on board, said: “There was a really loud bang towards the left rear of the plane and a woosh noise – and all the air masks dropped.

“They said there was a kid in that row who had his shirt was sucked off him and out of the plane and his mother was holding onto him to make sure he didn’t go with it.”

Jessica Montoia, another passenger, described the flight as a “trip from hell”, adding that a phone was taken out of a man’s hand by the wind.

It is unclear whether that phone is the same Mr Bates found on his walk.

Around 171 Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft remain grounded by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as safety checks continue.

Meanwhile, investigators have said the specific Alaska plane involved in Friday’s incident experienced pressurisation warnings in the days before.

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Related Topics

  • Oregon
  • Aviation accidents and incidents
  • Boeing
  • Aviation safety
  • United States

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