Tense moments after Air Canada flight cracks windshield in hailstorm
Emergency crews were ready on the ground in Lethbridge in case the worst happened.
Air Canada flight 1159 was forced to abort a landing in Calgary and re-route to Lethbridge on Saturday evening after hail badly damaged the windshield of the plane.
The sudden storm hit just as the plane was coming in for a landing at Calgary’s airport, and the pilot had to make the decision to pull the plane up again.
“We had communication with the pilot at all times with our radios, and he said the windshields were intact but badly damaged and he wasn’t sure how much damage the plane had received and he wasn’t sure it’s thrusters were going to work, so we had two fire trucks, a rescue vehicle and four ambulances staged here until it was proven safe,” said Platoon Chief Ron Lamane, Lethbridge Fire and EMS.
Inside the plane, passengers could hear the hail hammering the sides of the plane.
“It was pretty scary, the sound of the hail was quite something, it really was, and you couldn’t see anything out of the windows, so once we got out into the sunshine again heading toward Lethbridge, everyone sort of calmed down,” said Kate Carleton. “Upon deplaning, we realized the windshield of the plane had been cracked and there was enough damage that the plane was not going to be able to get us back to Calgary.”
“It was a little disturbing when you are going in for a landing and all of a sudden you are changing your trajectory and taking off, it was comforting when we got out of the hailstorm and above the clouds,” said Greg Hrabec.
The decision to head to Lethbridge was made because it was the closest airport and the weather in that area was stable. Ground crews in Lethbridge scrambled to be ready for the worst.
“The runway is long enough to be able to land a plane like this and we have our emergency personnel activated, the RCMP and fire department are on site immediately,” said Henry Doeve, Deputy Reeve, Lethbridge County.
The plane landed safely with no injuries. Some passengers were loaded onto busses to go to the airport in Calgary, while other rented cars.
Air Canada said that crews manually retrieved baggage on Sunday which will be transported to Calgary and delivered to customers.