Huck’s Press Plane Makes Emergency Landing

Feb 7, 2008 12:46pm

ABC News’ Kevin Chupka Reports: A few weeks ago, the Huckabee press corps was up in arms because the campaign discontinued the press plane in order to save money lost on empty seats. Ahead of Super Tuesday, the plane came back as Huckabee criss-crossed the south on his way to dominance there February 5th.

After a day of interviews in Little Rock, Arkansas, Huckabee took to the skies again this morning. He and his staff loaded into one Hawker 1000 jet and the seven members of the current traveling press corps loaded into another just like it. The flight plan took both planes from Little Rock to Teterboro Airport in New Jersey. Huckabee and his staff landed as scheduled, but something happened to the press plane while in the air.

About 10 minutes before landing, the plane rapidly descended. It took the dive so fast and for so long that, had we not been buckled in, we surely would have hovered an inch or two above our seats.  We chalked it up to the speedy jet we were using and were reassured by the playful grin of one of our pilots; but apparently all was not well.

The next ten minutes were a series of dips and turns – one so sharp the thought of flipping upside-down flashed for an instant in my mind.  At that point, I decided it best to stare down at the floor until we touched the ground.  One of my colleagues from another news organization comments immediately after landing that she never wanted to watch a pilot land a plane again.  She had watched the landing through the open door of the cockpit, and apparently it was something akin to seeing sausage being made.

"Where are we?" one passenger asked.

"Morristown Municipal Airport," our pilot shouted back.

I thought it odd that the same pilot told me we would be landing in Teterboro, just like the Governor.  "We have a problem," the pilot told us.  Apparently while in the air, all of the planes systems stopped working – most importantly, the ability for the computers to maintain the planes altitude. "It took both of us to keep it up," the pilot told us.  The co-pilot immediately exited the aircraft, visibly shaken.

All aboard were on the ground and safe, albeit a bit shaken.  The airport supplied a shuttle and we were able to get to New York City where Governor Huckabee is taping interviews for talk shows today.

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