JetBlue flight from White Plains makes emergency landing in Charleston, South Carolina

Josh Einiger Image
Saturday, June 24, 2017
JetBlue flight from White Plains makes emergency landing
Josh Einiger speaks to a retired fire chief from Brewster who was aboard the plane.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Smoke in the cockpit prompted a JetBlue Airways flight headed for Florida to make an emergency landing in South Carolina.

When it was over a plane full of people were standing in the grass at the airport in Charleston, South Carolina, after a scary and unscheduled landing.

"Yeah, yeah I never done that before," said Tom Palmer, a passenger. "And it wasn't on my bucket list."

Among them was Palmer, a former fire chief in Brewster, heading to Florida with his wife aboard JetBlue Flight 913 when something started to burn.

"People started smelling smoke and there was obviously a bit of haze in the air," said Frank Migliorelli, a passenger.

"I was amazed the passengers weren't more scared," Palmer said. "Everybody seemed to act calm, the crew acted admirably. They coached us right through it showed us how to brace for impact landing and we went from there."

The pilots declared an emergency on the flight after the Embraer 190 filled with smoke midway between White Plains and Fort Lauderdale.

"Just be advised, you can let the fire chief know, we do have, we did have, a smoke event in the cockpit, or in the cabin, and it has gone out, but there's still smoke back there," the pilot said to air traffic control. "We would like them to check if they can see anything outside. We do anticipate an evacuation on the runway."

In the cabin, flight attendants ordered passengers to brace for impact.

"A few people I'm sure were praying, and thinking that was it, but I never felt it was out of control," Migliorelli said.

Fortunately, it wasn't. People slid down the emergency chutes, but no one was hurt.

"I had a 90-year-old lady in front of me, put her on my lap, slid down the slide together," Palmer said.

The Palmers were later put on a different flight so they could make their way to Key West for their vacation.