Several passengers bound for Chicago on an American Airlines jet, from St. Louis, were telling the media about how their plane was hit by debris and lifted off the ground as the tornado went by.
The plane was moments from pulling away from the gate when the full force of the storm hit. Several passengers stated that they had been allowed to board and that the pilot told them that they were likely to end up sitting on the tarmac for a while. Then, moments later the storm hit.
According to reports to Chicago media, the full force of what is now believed to be a tornado hit the terminal that the passengers had just been in. The plane was suddenly rocked by the tornado-force winds and was hit by debris. Then, as the twister passed close, the entire plane was lifted off the ground.
The airplane was a 757, a large 100-ton airplane. The twister shattered windows and ripped part of a roof off of a terminal at St. Louis’ Lambert International Airport. The entire St. Louis area was hit hard by several particularly severe storms on Friday night. There were numerous reports of tornadoes throughout the night and there was even a two-and-a-half hour delay at the Cardinals game due to the tornado sirens going off in downtown St. Louis.
The passengers on the plane reported that things got particularly scary inside the plane. They reports that there were sheets of rain rushing past the windows and the sound of the wind grew in intensity. Then, according to passengers and crew, they felt the entire plane move beneath them. When the passengers were allowed to leave the plane, it was obvious that the plane had moved a significant distance.
Passengers also reported that they felt the air pressure change as the tornado went by the aircraft. At least one told the press that it felt as if the plane had suddenly ascended to 32,000 feet in a matter of seconds.
No one was injured inside the airplane during the incident. No one inside the airport was injured or killed, either.
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