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Delta flight makes unexpected landing in Cold Bay, FAA points to engine trouble

By KTVA CBS 11 News 2:01 PM January 15, 2017

Last updated at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 15

ANCHORAGE — A Delta Airlines flight made an emergency landing in Cold Bay Saturday morning after experiencing what an aviation official described as engine trouble.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Allen Kenitzer confirmed the flight’s detour, but couldn’t elaborate further about what was wrong with the plane.

Emiliana Dela Cruz Lopez was onboard the plane. It was one of her first flights ever. She was on her way from Manila in the Philippines to Grand Forks, North Dakota. 

“The engine is malfunctioning. And it’s blowing fire. That’s why the entire — whole plane was really vibrating so bad,” Lopez’s daughter, Rose Stokke, translated for her mother in an interview. “She was really scared and shaking. She never expected that this would happen.”

Dailey Schaack, the mother of Cold Bay Mayor Candace Nielsen, was one of the locals who helped entertain Lopez and the other roughly 200 passengers and crew members during their brief visit.

“We were just trying to keep them comfortable,” she said. “I made them pots and pots of coffee.”

She said the large plane was headed from Tokyo to Portland, Oregon before it made its unexpected landing around 6 a.m.

“So one of the engines went out and they diverted here to Cold Bay and landed here safely,” Schaack explained.

Schaack said she has lived in Cold Bay for about 15 years, during which time she’s seen at least a few diverted flights land at the airport, including an American Airlines flight in October.

“It’s nice that Cold Bay can have an airport that people could divert to and land safely,” she said, adding that the community currently only has about 50 residents.

While the American Airlines passengers were not allowed to leave the airport area, passengers aboard the Delta flight were allowed to visit the Cold Bay community center, as well as the borough building, according to Schaack. She said some of the passengers wandered around to take pictures on what she jokingly called “pretty much a beautiful day for Cold Bay weather.”

“They would never pay money to come to Cold Bay, I’m sure,” Schaack laughed. “It was pretty neat the reactions they had just not knowing where they were at.”

Another Delta plane landed in Cold Bay around 2 p.m. to carry the passengers on to Portland, Schaack explained. She said the original plane was still at the Cold Bay airport Sunday afternoon.

“I’m very much a people person, so it was a lot of fun for me,” Schaack said of the experience.

This is a developing story, please check back for updates. KTVA 11’s Eric Ruble contributed to this report.

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