United Airlines plane makes emergency landing on Midway Island

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Josh Einiger has the story. (WABC)

There was a big scare in the sky right over the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Alarms went off inside a United Airlines plane as a burning smell filled the cabin.

The plane, which originated in Honolulu, began losing power and was forced to make an emergency landing over one of the most remote places on earth, a tiny island called Midway.

It was no way to start a summer vacation; hundreds of passengers in the middle of the night, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean were stranded on a deserted island.

"It really felt like we were lost," said Teresita Smith, a passenger.

But at least they were on the ground.

"It was pretty scary. I know for me, I kind of instantly went into prayer and other people started to tear up and shake," Smith said.

On United Flight 201 from Honolulu to Guam, passenger Teresita Smith thought she might not make it as the fully loaded 777 filled with a burning smell and people heard alarms going off in the back of the plane.

"The captain said that the smell was getting very strong in the cockpit and so they were very concerned and as they were getting ready to land. They said their electricity started to go out in the cockpit. And one of the things they had mentioned is the radar sensors that went out when we were getting ready to land," Smith said.

The problems began before takeoff in Honolulu, where Teresita says a mystery smell caused a three-hour delay. United mechanics deemed the plane safe to fly. But five hours later, barely more than halfway across the vast Pacific, the smell came back and the pilots diverted to the former US Naval station at Midway Island, the site of the famous Battle of Midway during WWII.
Passengers spent hours waiting in a gymnasium until United could ferry a replacement plane to pick them up and fly them back to Hawaii to try it all again.

"It was just very scary. The whole ordeal kind of didn't help the anxiety that everyone was already experiencing," Smith said.
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