Smoke on Plane Causes Dramatic Emergency Landing

All 53 people and four crew members on board made it out safely.

ByABC News
July 20, 2012, 4:18 AM

July 20, 2012— -- An American Eagle flight bound for Chicago was diverted first because of bad weather, but as the plane was about to land smoke began to fill the cabin, causing passengers to jump from the aircraft after it landed safely.

All 53 people and four crew members on board made it out safely, although American Airlines reported one passenger injured an ankle.

American Airlines Flight 3773 took off from Denver on Wednesday but was diverted to Peoria International Airport because of bad weather. As the plane approached for landing, smoke began pouring from the ceiling of the aircraft.

Many frightened passengers believed something was burning above in the plane's ceiling, but American Airlines released a statement overnight saying there was no fire on board and "we have concluded that the smoke came from a house fire near the Peoria airport ... not from the aircraft."

"Right as we are landing, we smelled burnt rubber," said passenger Rita Bentley after the emergency landing. "And I was sitting next to two flight attendants and we all said, something must be burning."

Chris Pyle began shooting video of the smoke as it filled the cabin. "All of a sudden smoke started coming out of the ceiling."

Pyle said his thoughts turned to his children while other passengers prayed. "It was eerily quiet on the plane. No one was screaming. Everyone was just very concerned about what was going on."

After the plane landed, passengers were instructed by the flight crew to exit immediately via the emergency exits over the wings of the aircraft. Not wasting any time, the captain stopped the plane shortly after landing, and that's when the passengers began exiting the plane and jumping onto the runway.

One passenger managed to take a cell phone video of the dramatic landing and upload it to YouTube. "This is how we just got off this freaking plane," he said on the video. "No joke."

"I remember looking down at the wing thinking, 'Oh my gosh. Well this is something I have to do.' So I just jumped," said Bentley.

All the passengers and flight crew on board made it out safely, though American Airlines reported one passenger injured an ankle.

"It was an experience," said Bentley. "I've always been an adventurous person, but I never thought I'd have that kind of adventure."