A flight from Newark, New Jersey to Poland with 230 people onboard made an emergency crash landing at Warsaw’s Frederic Chopin International airport on Tuesday after an apparent problem with the aircraft’s landing gear.
After the landing gear failed to engage on the Polish LOT airlines flight, the pilot circled for an hour and dumped its landing fuel amid sparks and small fires before making a stunning and calamity-free landing, sans wheels. All the passengers on the flight, a Boeing 767, emerged safe and uninjured, an airport spokeswoman told CNN.
(PHOTOS: Emergency Landing in Warsaw)
Rescue crews were prepared and on the runway during the dramatic landing. They put fire retardant on plane immediately, as it was very hot upon stopping and could have melted or completely caught fire. As it was, the landing produced a small fire that was extinguished.
LOT airlines president, Marcin Pirog, told reporters that Captain Tadeusz Wrona and co-pilot Jerzy Szwartz carried out a “perfect emergency landing,” which prevented anyone from being injured. Although passengers reportedly felt very little turbulence during the unusual landing, some did experience the inherent stress of enduring such a flight.
Joanna Dabrowska, 29, said some of the passengers apparently feared the worst. “People were saying their final farewells to each other and some were sobbing,” she told the Associated Press.
Most, however, were grateful to the flight crew for ensuring that the dramatic event did not turn into catastrophe. “I was praying for the pilot not to lose control because we started to make circles over the airport. It was terrible,” passenger Teresa Kowalik told reporters. “We owe everything to the pilot. He really did a great job.”
Many are already terming Captain Wrona the “Polish Captain Sully,” in reference to the heroic American pilot who safely landed an Airbus A320 in the Hudson River in 2009.
Belly landings such as this are relatively common and usually not fatal, though they are costly. In this instance, Chopin airport will remain closed until at least 8 a.m. local time Wednesday and all LOT flights scheduled to leave later Tuesday have been canceled.
PHOTOS: Plane Crash in the Hudson River