Alaska Airlines passengers describe the moment a piece of the plane fell off

An Alaska Airlines flight was forced to make an emergency landing when part of the plane fell off in mid-air, passengers said.

Passenger Evan Granger, who was seated in exit row seat 16F, said he experienced a “heavy boom” followed by a “gust of wind” 20 minutes into Friday's flight. He said both ears were blocked.

“I don't want to look back to see what's going on,” Granger told NBC News.My focus at that point was breathing through the oxygen mask and hoping the flight crew would do everything they could to keep us safe.

Granger admitted that “a lot of things had to go right for us all to survive,” and said he was “very grateful” that they were able to land safely.

Elizabeth Lee of Portland, Oregon, said the plane was about 20 minutes into its flight from Portland to Ontario, California, on Friday when she heard a loud noise.

“All of a sudden I heard a big bang and I didn't know exactly what was going on, but I looked up and there were oxygen masks hanging from the ceiling,” Le told a Southern California news agency. OC Hawk. “And then I look to my left and there's this big piece, part of the plane missing.”

Jan. 5, 2024 image of the mid-air window on an Alaska Airlines flight from Portland to Ontario.Courtesy Kyle Ringer

“Extremely loud” winds rushed into the plane, but passengers remained in their seats and kept their seat belts on.

“I couldn't think straight because of how loud the wind was,” he said.

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He added: “I couldn't believe my eyes. There is a hole. You can see the city and the stars and everything outside the window. It was crazy.”

No one was sitting in the window seat in the next row directly to where the plane part fell, but a mother and son in that row were in the middle and aisle seats, Lee said.

Lee said he asked the mother to hold her teenage son tight so he wouldn't be ejected from the plane, adding that his shirt had flown off and he looked very red.

Another passenger, Jessica Montoya, told OC Hawk that the plane had reached 10,000 feet when a section of the wall apparently broke off.

“We flew for another three or four minutes and then we heard this pop and all the oxygen masks came down,” he said. “I wasn't scared. I don't know why. Nobody was really yelling or anything.

Montoya said he spoke to someone after the incident who said his shirt and phone had been “absorbed” from the plane.

“It was a ride from hell,” Montoya said.

A photo of a passenger shows an entire panel missing on one side of the plane next to the seats. The assembly, known as a door plug, separated from the plane at about 16,000 feet, National Transportation Safety Board Chairwoman Jennifer Homandy said during a press conference Saturday night.

Passenger Stan Sigstad also described hearing a “pop,” followed by a strong gust of wind that “came forward and then it came back and it hit me in the face,” he said.

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Sigstad said he was not afraid.

“I was a bit nervous,” he told OC Hawk. “But I said to God, 'I trust you.'”

The Federal Aviation Administration said the crews “reported a depressurization problem” when part of the plane broke off, leaving a gap.

Le, Montoya and Sigstad all noted how surprisingly calm the passengers and crew were during the flight.

Montoya praised the flight attendants for staying calm, and Sigstad added the “calmness” of the pilot's voice “kept everyone calm.”

Flight 1282 with 174 passengers and 6 crew members landed safely at Portland International Airport.

The FAA ordered some Boeing 737 Max 9 planes to be temporarily grounded for inspections, affecting about 171 flights worldwide.

Alaska Airlines Flight 1282
Alaska Airlines Flight 1282Acquired by NBC affiliate KGW

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