Panic as plane plummets in air pocket

2014-07-17 00:00

PANICKED passengers screamed as SA Airways flight SA 286 dropped like a stone in sudden turbulence en route to Hong Kong on Tuesday night.

Artist and trainee pilot from Maputo, Sebastião Coana (26) was one of many passengers who was flung against the roof as the plane plummeted for several metres.

His head hit the overhead stowage compartment so hard that it left a hole in it. Ewald Sadie, a freelance photographer from Cape Town, tweeted a photo of the hole. Sadie described said people “flying all over the place”. He said he was fine but “f***ing scared”.

Brian Heuer, who was flying with his wife, told the South China Morning Post many of the passengers were asleep while others were walking about when the plane hit the thin air.

Coana said he and everyone else who was hurt had unfastened their seatbelts.

While he knew it was just a pocket of thin air and the pilots would soon fly through it, the turbulence lasted for about two minutes and during all the buffeting the passengers around him were convinced they were falling.

“It was terrible for them and some were hysterical.

“It all happened so suddenly that the pilots had no chance to warn us. The feeling that we were being flung around out of control was the worst for the people around me. Some people hit their heads and were cut.”

Coana, who was flying to Beijing to continue pilot training, moved as little as possible for the remaining five hours of the flight, worried that he might cause further injury to his very sore and stiff neck.

He said the cabin crew were very professional and the captain told them they would receive medical treatment when they landed. Fourteen ambulances were waiting for the plane.

“I will never again fly without my seatbelt fastened,” the trainee pilot said with an embarrassed laugh.

Guy Leitch, a pilot and editor of SA Flyer said the plane will be checked for damage before flying again.

SAA spokesperson Tlali Tlali said the plane’s passenger cabin had suffered quite lot of damage.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Men.24 Model of the Week: Wendy from Cape Town

Find out more about our featured model, Wendy from Cape Town


You won't want to miss...

Who are the highest paid models of 2017?
10 gorgeous plus-sized models who aren't Ashley Graham
WATCH: Pornhub is giving users free access to premium content these holidays
5 top leg exercises for men
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.