Passenger recalls violent turbulence that led to emergency landing in Birmingham

“Anyone who didn’t have their seatbelt on, they hit against the ceiling”
Published: Jul. 21, 2022 at 8:16 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - We are beginning to learn more about what occurred in the air during American Airlines flight 3609 from Tampa to Nashville.

The pilots were attempting to fly around some severe weather Wednesday afternoon, July 20, but they soon had to make an emergency landing in Birmingham due to severe turbulence.

“Everything was smooth and I think that was why it was such a surprise because all of a sudden we just hit a bumpy spot, and what started off as shaky soon turned in to something much more significant,” said passenger Brad Tice.

He says the turbulence lasted at most for thirty seconds, but many who were unbuckled or out of their seats at the time paid the price.

“It was severe, I mean I cannot underplay that. The flight attendant, I happened to be in first class and the flight attendant in first class, she was bloody all over her face. She hit something hard. Anyone who didn’t have their seatbelt on, they hit against the ceiling. The guy who was behind me cracked the plastic in the vents in the ceiling because he hit so hard,” said Tice.

The plane then relayed the severity of the incident to the ground.

“It is not an aircraft issue it is a medical emergency issue,” said the pilots to air traffic control.

The Birmingham Fire Department actually has a station at the airport, but they immediately began rolling more trucks over to aid with injury assessments.

“When we get a call like that, the first thing we want to do is try and assess how many patients we could be dealing with,” said Birmingham Fire Chief Sebastian Carrillo. “There were not any severe injuries. Everything we treated was minor, from anxiety to a bloody nose, some head trauma,” said Chief Carrillo.

According to American Airlines, in total, 56 people were on the plane, and eight were transported to local hospitals to get further checked out. Tice and his business partner ended up taking an Uber back to Nashville, but stresses the event won’t stop him from jumping in a plane.

“Just rave reviews for the crew and plane, and definitely one I won’t forget, but it won’t stop me from flying. If anything, it reassured me of the safety of flying and the sturdiness of aircrafts,” said Tice.

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