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Inside United Airlines Flight 811 where cabin explosion ripped passengers from seats before they were sucked into engine | The Sun
HUNDREDS of passengers boarded the United Airlines Flight 811 over three decades ago – before a deadly explosion ripped them from the aircraft.
On 24 February 1989, the flight was cleared for take-off from Honolulu International Airport to Sydney, Australia.
Prior to arriving in Honolulu, Hawaii, the plane had come from Los Angeles, California, where the there were no reported issues or incidents.
But as the next lot of 337 passengers and 18 crew members boarded the Boeing 747 – nothing could have prepared them for the horror that was about to unfold.
Just 16 minutes after take-off, around 60 miles south of Honolulu, the airliner was already climbing through an altitude of almost 23,000 ft.
Flying at almost 345mph, passengers were terrified when at 02:09am (local time) they heard an ominous "thump" after experiencing some turbulence.
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Then suddenly, the cargo door in front of the right wing failed and swung outwards.
Extreme pressure blew a massive hole in the main body of the aircraft and caused the cabin floor to cave in.
As a result, ten passenger seats were dragged out into the open sky as nine passengers were ejected from the plane.
And a lucky flight attendant was nearly ripped through the gaping hole in the 747, until she was pulled back in by other passengers and crew members.
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As the destruction lingered in the sky, flames were reportedly visible from the nightmare accident as the debris damaged both engines on the right wing.
As the engines lost power, they both had to be shut down and Flight 811 had no choice but to start dumping fuel to reduce the aircraft's weight – making it lighter for an emergency landing.
The airliner started descending as it turned to head back towards Honolulu.
Due to the severe damage of the wing, the flaps could only be partially extended so the pilot, Captain David Cronin, had to approach the landing strip at a much higher than normal speed.
And in a miraculous turn of events, the 747 touched down at Honolulu International Airport where it was fully evacuated in just 45 seconds.
It was reported that every flight attendant had suffered some injury form the tragic incident, from scratches to a dislocated shoulder.
Following the horror-show, the door of the plane that was first ripped off was later recovered by a U.S. Navy deep sea submarine from a staggering depth of 14,100 ft.
After investigations into the tragedy came to a close, it was revealed that the cargo door failure occurred due to a faulty design along with a short in the 747's electrical system.
But despite thorough searches for the nine victims who lost their lives in the accident, no remains were ever found.
Small body fragments and strips of clothing were recovered from one of the planes engines, suggesting that at least one passenger was sucked into the running engine.
This comes after the Aloha Airlines disaster in 1988, where the cabin exploded and sucked an attendant out at 24,000ft.
Crew members were serving drinks and snacks to plane passengers when the blast occurred as the cabin pressure plummeted.
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The ceiling of the Boeing 737 was blasted off, tearing a huge chunk out of the plane in the process.
Flight attendant Clarabelle Lansing, 58, was tending to passengers in the fifth row when she was sucked out into the void.
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