The Plane Was Disintegrating

A jet with its roof blown off makes a miracle landing

It was a milk run, a routine bit of island hopping. The Aloha Airlines jet was cruising at 24,000 ft., just 25 miles southeast of the Hawaiian island of Maui, en route from Hilo to Honolulu. Everything seemed normal aboard Flight 243 last Thursday afternoon when suddenly -- with a whoosh like a paper bag popping -- a gaping hole blew open in the fuselage directly above the first- class compartment. "Everything was flying around -- books, papers, money," said Stanford Samson, a passenger seated nearby. "A stewardess was in the aisle being pulled toward the hole. Everybody who could grabbed...

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