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A Southwest incident.

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A Southwest incident.

Old 11-10-2018, 02:39 PM
  #1  
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Default A Southwest incident.

Hello all,

I am new to this site and joined because I am seeking answers to something that happened to me years ago.

I have not done a lot of flying in my life but the little that I did do, I used to enjoy. I have always had a window seat and would have my face glued to the window.

However, this would all change on a Southwest flight in June of 1993, from Las Vegas, Nevada to San Diego, California, in the middle of the night, on a red eye flight to go back home. Maybe around the 2nd or 3rd of the month?

My cousin decided to marry her long time boyfriend, before he shipped off to boot camp, for the military. I saw them as they were leaving and tagged along to go with them to Vegas and also, visit my Mom, who lives out there.

Since this incident, I have only flown one other time, in August of 1999, from San Diego, to Dallas, and back. And while those flights had no issues whatsoever, it has been to stressful for me to fly, since then.

In recent years, I have been wanting to start flying again but have been seeking answers to what may have happened on that flight in 1993?

First, what happened is not a knock on Southwest Airlines or the pilot. If anything, that person deserved a metal because nobody lost their life.

So, we took off from Vegas and it was a very late flight. Off of memory, around 11:00pm or maybe 12:00am? The flight is only around an hour and I donít think you get up to a very high elevation. Maybe 20,000í to 25,000í tops, due to it being a shorter flight.

The plane was a 737. Iím assuming it was a Classic. It had the engines with the flat part on the bottom of the engine cowels and had no winglets. (In recent years I have being done research on different commercial airliner planes, to try and learn more about them.)

The plane took off, got to Iím assuming cruising altitude. It was the beginning of the flight and we were still over the desert somewhere? The flight attendants started bringing drinks to everyone and then the Pilot came on the intercom. He said everyone needed to stay buckled up because we were about to hit so strong turbulence. He didnít even get the word turbulence out of his mouth and the entire plane dropped. It felt like a force on top of the plane pushing it down. When the plane dropped, the flight was level but then the plane went into a nose dive, that was very steep. The plane lost all internal and external lights and both engines also lost power. I was on the wing, on the right side of the plane and could hear the engines slowing down and heard them go quiet. Peoplevstarted freaking out. The flight attendentent next to me, got pinned on the ceiling as the plane dove.

As everyone was freaking out and the plane was still in a dive, I could hear the engines trying to turn back on. They finally did so after maybe 30 seconds into the nose dive. The pilot was able to pull out of it but Iím assuming that due to us flying at a lower altitude, when he pulled out, he put the plane into a very steep climb. It seemed much steeper than take off. Iím assuming he may possibly have been trying to clear something. Maybe a mountain? When the plane lost all power, everything was pitch black. The plane, outside the plane and because we were over the desert, there were no lights at all. I just remember being pinned into my seat and unable to move. As the pilot pulled out, the poor flight attendant hit the floor and as we started climbing again, she remained there. Once we leveled out, other flight attendants came to her aide and took her to the back of the plane. The pilot came on and said the plane was having some mechanical issues and we would still be experiencing bad turbulence. He said that we may possibly divert to a closer airport but never did. The remainder of the flight, everyone had to stay buckled up and the plane seemed like it was fighting the pilot the entire time. All the way into San Diego, it seemed like the plane would drop and the pilot would have to keep it on course. As we began our descent to land, it was still the same thing. It wasnít a gradual decent but more like the pilot fighting the the plane as it descended. When we landed, we hit hard. The plane actually bounced and then then hit the runway somewhat hard again. Once the nose touched down, the plane then did fine.

An ambulance met us just off the runway and took the injured flight attendant off the plane. We then went to the gate to get off the plane. Before I boarding, the pilot got back on the intercom and apologized for the rough flight. He said they hit some unexpected turbulence and then something mechanically happened. He didnít specify what but whatever it was, clearly it affected how the plane performed.

The entire flight, even over the desert, was clear. Not a cloud in the sky. The weather in Vegas, was warm, but not too hot. Maybe mid 80ís? That night it cooled down but not so bad that I couldnít wear shorts.

After the pilot got the planes engines started again and the lights back on, the lights in the cabin remained on but were very dim. I donít know if that had to do with anything or not, but they stayed that way during the remainder of the flight.

I know I wrote a book but I came on here to find possible answers as to what possibly could have happened? That is why I tried to be as detailed as possible.

Any help would be much appreciated! I now live in Colorado and would like to fly from Denver, to Vegas to see my Mom again or even other cities, to visit. But, before I can do that, it would help if I was able to understand what caused the issues on that flight 25 years ago.
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Old 11-10-2018, 03:18 PM
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Tldnr........
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Old 11-10-2018, 03:24 PM
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That sounds incredibly frightening and am sorry you had to go through that. That would certainly be enough to convince many people not to ever fly again.
Turbulence not related to convective (thunderstorm) activity and in clear air is simply referred to as "clear air turbulence" (CAT) and it can often be much more severe. Worst yet, unlike turbulence within clouds, it is unable to be seen by pilots and thus harder to avoid. The best tool we have at avoiding such turbulence is by reports from other airplanes, known as pilot reports, or PIREPS. Certain types of CAT is known to be more likely with certain conditions. One of these is known as a mountain wave. Mountain wave turbulence can be very severe. Based on your location, and depending on the winds that day, this could have very likely been the culprit. It wouldn't be surprising if a preceding aircraft flew that airspace at a different altitude and reported moderate turbulence to air traffic control, and your flight flew the same airspace at a lower altitude that was much worse.
Of course, this is all conjecture. As to the engines both failing, that part I can't help you. That seems highly unlikely, but stranger things have happened, and I am not familiar with all of the systems of a 737-300. Perhaps the generators came off line. No idea.
Glad you're thinking about flying again, and know that this type of thing while very scary is also very rare. Further, even if it does occur, like you saw, it's not going to bring the airplane down.
Read about mountain wave turbulence here:
https://www.weather.gov/media/public...1nov-front.pdf

and here

https://disciplesofflight.com/mounta...t-flight-ever/
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Old 11-10-2018, 03:29 PM
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Iím guessing the sounds of the engines shutting off was simply the pilot bringing them to idle to decend and/or decelerate to a speed and altitude more suitable to the turbulence.
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Old 11-11-2018, 03:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Jason R View Post
Hello all,

I am new to this site and joined because I am seeking answers to something that happened to me years ago.

I have not done a lot of flying in my life but the little that I did do, I used to enjoy. I have always had a window seat and would have my face glued to the window.

However, this would all change on a Southwest flight in June of 1993, from Las Vegas, Nevada to San Diego, California, in the middle of the night, on a red eye flight to go back home. Maybe around the 2nd or 3rd of the month?

My cousin decided to marry her long time boyfriend, before he shipped off to boot camp, for the military. I saw them as they were leaving and tagged along to go with them to Vegas and also, visit my Mom, who lives out there.

Since this incident, I have only flown one other time, in August of 1999, from San Diego, to Dallas, and back. And while those flights had no issues whatsoever, it has been to stressful for me to fly, since then.

In recent years, I have been wanting to start flying again but have been seeking answers to what may have happened on that flight in 1993?

First, what happened is not a knock on Southwest Airlines or the pilot. If anything, that person deserved a metal because nobody lost their life.

So, we took off from Vegas and it was a very late flight. Off of memory, around 11:00pm or maybe 12:00am? The flight is only around an hour and I donít think you get up to a very high elevation. Maybe 20,000í to 25,000í tops, due to it being a shorter flight.

The plane was a 737. Iím assuming it was a Classic. It had the engines with the flat part on the bottom of the engine cowels and had no winglets. (In recent years I have being done research on different commercial airliner planes, to try and learn more about them.)

The plane took off, got to Iím assuming cruising altitude. It was the beginning of the flight and we were still over the desert somewhere? The flight attendants started bringing drinks to everyone and then the Pilot came on the intercom. He said everyone needed to stay buckled up because we were about to hit so strong turbulence. He didnít even get the word turbulence out of his mouth and the entire plane dropped. It felt like a force on top of the plane pushing it down. When the plane dropped, the flight was level but then the plane went into a nose dive, that was very steep. The plane lost all internal and external lights and both engines also lost power. I was on the wing, on the right side of the plane and could hear the engines slowing down and heard them go quiet. Peoplevstarted freaking out. The flight attendentent next to me, got pinned on the ceiling as the plane dove.

As everyone was freaking out and the plane was still in a dive, I could hear the engines trying to turn back on. They finally did so after maybe 30 seconds into the nose dive. The pilot was able to pull out of it but Iím assuming that due to us flying at a lower altitude, when he pulled out, he put the plane into a very steep climb. It seemed much steeper than take off. Iím assuming he may possibly have been trying to clear something. Maybe a mountain? When the plane lost all power, everything was pitch black. The plane, outside the plane and because we were over the desert, there were no lights at all. I just remember being pinned into my seat and unable to move. As the pilot pulled out, the poor flight attendant hit the floor and as we started climbing again, she remained there. Once we leveled out, other flight attendants came to her aide and took her to the back of the plane. The pilot came on and said the plane was having some mechanical issues and we would still be experiencing bad turbulence. He said that we may possibly divert to a closer airport but never did. The remainder of the flight, everyone had to stay buckled up and the plane seemed like it was fighting the pilot the entire time. All the way into San Diego, it seemed like the plane would drop and the pilot would have to keep it on course. As we began our descent to land, it was still the same thing. It wasnít a gradual decent but more like the pilot fighting the the plane as it descended. When we landed, we hit hard. The plane actually bounced and then then hit the runway somewhat hard again. Once the nose touched down, the plane then did fine.

An ambulance met us just off the runway and took the injured flight attendant off the plane. We then went to the gate to get off the plane. Before I boarding, the pilot got back on the intercom and apologized for the rough flight. He said they hit some unexpected turbulence and then something mechanically happened. He didnít specify what but whatever it was, clearly it affected how the plane performed.

The entire flight, even over the desert, was clear. Not a cloud in the sky. The weather in Vegas, was warm, but not too hot. Maybe mid 80ís? That night it cooled down but not so bad that I couldnít wear shorts.

After the pilot got the planes engines started again and the lights back on, the lights in the cabin remained on but were very dim. I donít know if that had to do with anything or not, but they stayed that way during the remainder of the flight.

I know I wrote a book but I came on here to find possible answers as to what possibly could have happened? That is why I tried to be as detailed as possible.

Any help would be much appreciated! I now live in Colorado and would like to fly from Denver, to Vegas to see my Mom again or even other cities, to visit. But, before I can do that, it would help if I was able to understand what caused the issues on that flight 25 years ago.
Oh my gosh just reading this elevated my anxiety. I also had an incident on Southwest a while back unfortunately. Like you I donít have any Iíll will toward Southwest. I love the airline. They have great employees, great fares and FREE BAGS!! But yeah I was flying from San Antonio to Chicago and it was a really bumpy ride for much of the flight...mostly as we got closer to Chicago. We were landing at Midway and all of a sudden during descent the plane started dipping drastically as we were also going through strong turbulence. I actually donít believe anything was wrong. Iím originally from Chicago and know all too well about that cold choppy wind. But I believe this just had to do with the the maneuvers the pilots had to do to get through the weather conditions. In any event, it was scary and all I could do was close my eyes and wait for it to be over. I do recall though that as we were getting really close to landing the pilot turned the plane sharply to the left and it seemed like (I doubt it actually was) the plane was flying in sideways lol. I was a nervous wreck when I got off that plane. I have flown southwest numerous time since then because itís a 2 hour give or take nonstop flight from here to Chicago so whenever I go I typically hop on SW. Wheneve I fly southwest though the flights do tend to be pretty bumpy. Can anyone tell me whether this has anything to do with the type of aircraft southwest uses? (Be gentle if itís a dumb question, Iím just asking). I ask because I took a flight after flying southwest for a long time on United not too long ago to Atlanta and it was such a smooth ride...totally different than how the flights feel in southwest planes. I actually told the pilot as I was deplaning how nice the ride was because I was that surprised. He seemed really appreciative of the compliment

I think this is actually a good thread. Thanks for sharing your story and asking questions. Hopefully you all (pilots) wonít mind educating us on a few of these issues.
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Old 11-11-2018, 05:15 PM
  #6  
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Originally Posted by Jason R View Post
......June of 1993,..... Maybe around the 2nd or 3rd of the month?

When the plane dropped, the flight was level but then the plane went into a nose dive, that was very steep. The plane lost all internal and external lights and both engines also lost power.


As everyone was freaking out and the plane was still in a dive, I could hear the engines trying to turn back on.


.....when he pulled out, he put the plane into a very steep climb. It seemed much steeper than take off. I’m assuming he may possibly have been trying to clear something. Maybe a mountain? When the plane lost all power, everything was pitch black. The plane, outside the plane and because we were over the desert, there were no lights at all.
The NTSB keeps a pretty complete database of incidents going back well past 1993. When I looked, there was nothing related to this incident you described. I'm not suggesting it didn't happen, but perhaps what did happen didn't rise to the level you indicated. If a SWA 737 had lost both engines enroute from LAS to SAN in 1993, it would be listed in that NTSB database.

The description you gave of the flight path of the aircraft, is what you felt. There's mostly likely a big difference between what the aircraft really did and what your inner ear made you think was happening (since you were unable to see anything outside due to it being "pitch black" from the lack of light and being over desert).

Without visual references, any acceleration or deceleration by the aircraft is going to translate into an inner ear sensation that the aircraft is climbing or descending. If the aircraft hit some mountain wave turbulence, that may have resulted in a rapid increase in the indicated speed on the cockpit instruments and possible put the aircraft in an over-speed situation (exceeding the maximum limit). That probably would have resulted in the pilot retarding the throttle to idle (the "loss of engines" you heard). It would have also resulted in an inner ear sensation of deceleration which would have felt exactly like the aircraft was nosing over into a dive (even though it was perfectly level). That, combined with the actual turbulence and vertical motion caused by it would have probably made it feel exactly like you described.

As the mountain wave continued, the aircraft indicated speed may have gone the other way and approached a low airspeed point which required the pilot to increase engine power rapidly. That would have been the "engines trying to turn back on". A rapid increase in power and acceleration (again, without visual references outside) would have felt exactly like a very steep climb ("steeper than takeoff") even though the aircraft was still basically in level flight.

It's very possible that there may have been some kind of electric issue with the aircraft. The decision to continue to San Diego may have been made once they were able to start a back-up electrical generator, run some checklists and determine it was safe to continue. Of course, they would have also had to determine if the flight attendant was in need of immediate care, although by that point in the flight there may not have been any better or closer options anyway. They obviously determine continuing the SAN was the best option.

I'm not trying to diminish the situation. Turbulence events are dangerous, mostly to the aircraft occupants. It doesn't take much to turn unsecured people into projectiles and do serious harm. The aircraft are built to take it. But, having an injured crew member or passenger is always big deal.

Beyond that, I think the rest is a result of your first experience with a phenomenon called spatial disorientation that pilots have battled since we started flying aircraft. The "seat of the pants" feel you rely on when you're not in an aircraft will deceive you every time if you rely on it in the air. There have been too many times to count when I would have sworn I was in 90-degrees of bank, inverted, climbing/descending steeply when my instruments were telling me I was level or in a normal turn.

Your flight had a serious turbulence encounter, no doubt. You were safe even when it seemed terrible since you were strapped in. I seriously doubt the aircraft lost both engines or went through the maneuvers you describe. It definitely doesn't sound like a great experience. But, if anything, it should give you confidence in the aircraft and the manufacturer, the crew and their training and make it easier to fly going forward. It's unlikely future flights will realistically and statistically get much worse than one, so they'll probably only get better.
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Old 11-11-2018, 07:31 PM
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Pretty unusual, I'll bet you could fly for the next 25 years and not duplicate your experience (A good thing.) Get your nerve up and give it a shot.
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Old 11-11-2018, 09:02 PM
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This is an issue of perception, not of fact.

The original post is ridiculously long , full of mostly irrelevant information.

There is no way for the original poster to know that the engines flamed out. Upon encounter with turbulence, the pilot retarded the power to reduce speed, the correct response in turbulence.

The airplane did not enter a "nose dive." That may have been the perception, but that does not happen to aircraft, though one may feel a drop; most likely it's a very slight descent, albeit rapid; what one perceives is not necessarily fact.

There's no "backup electrical generator," and were there to be a complete electrical failure, the flight would not have continued to the destination. There is an auxiliary power unit, not run at altitude, and not used to continue to a destination when other options exist.

The landing had nothing to do with the turbulence enroute.
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Old 11-11-2018, 09:51 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnBurke View Post
This is an issue of perception, not of fact.

The original post is ridiculously long , full of mostly irrelevant information.

There is no way for the original poster to know that the engines flamed out. Upon encounter with turbulence, the pilot retarded the power to reduce speed, the correct response in turbulence.

The airplane did not enter a "nose dive." That may have been the perception, but that does not happen to aircraft, though one may feel a drop; most likely it's a very slight descent, albeit rapid; what one perceives is not necessarily fact.

There's no "backup electrical generator," and were there to be a complete electrical failure, the flight would not have continued to the destination. There is an auxiliary power unit, not run at altitude, and not used to continue to a destination when other options exist.

The landing had nothing to do with the turbulence enroute.
My goodness JB. You have once again proven yourself to be an absolute AH on this forum. Consider your audience. Someone who was riding in the back, completely unaware of all you might know.

I explained in a much more respectful, reasonable way, why it was unlikely that the aircraft actually entered a nose-dive. Why you felt it necessary to jump in and belittle someone who is just looking for information is something only you can answer. All I can say is that it's truly pathetic and most of your posts here are an embarrassment to our profession.

I could have called it an APU, but considering I was speaking to a non-pilot, I chose to call it something that would mean something to him. It's unlikely there was a complete electrical failure and I never indicated that was a reasonable possibility. While you discount almost all of what the OP says, why you would decided to take his analysis of complete electrical failure as gospel is very strange. If there was an issue with ONE of the engine driven generators (a far more reasonable scenario and what I suggested), perhaps requiring an IDG disconnect - You can bet your sweet ass that would have required starting the APU (AT ALTITUDE ) on a twin engine aircraft like the 737. AND instead of landing at nearest suitable, that 737 would have had the option to then continue to destination because of two full up AC sources. I've had it happen and done it on a couple of occasions.

I'm sure I'll get one of the JB classic, legalistic, black and white responses - so I'm standing by. In the meantime, to the OP, I apologize on behalf of JB and recommend you ignore him.

Last edited by Adlerdriver; 11-11-2018 at 10:36 PM.
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Old 11-12-2018, 12:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Adlerdriver View Post
I explained in a much more respectful, reasonable way, why it was unlikely that the aircraft actually entered a nose-dive.
Get over yourself, brightspark. That grade you once wore on your shoulders may have tipped your neck up just high enough to perpetually snow on your brain.

The original poster had a bit of a bounce in a wave or other such turbulence, and has been living with a perception that's become larger than life.

Asked and answered. Drop the trumpian self congratulations and move on.
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