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Tokyo earthquake hit as plane was on runway: pilot tells what it was like

By danwarne     Filed under: narita, tokyo, Japan, pilots, natural disasters, earthquake, eqjp, tsunami

A commercial airline pilot tells what it felt like in his plane as the magnitude 9.0 earthquake hit in Japan at 5pm on March 11th.

"I was taxi-ing out for departure from Narita to Fukuoka, with a full load of passengers, after push back when I noticed something was wrong with the nosewheel steering - well that's what I thought the problem was," he wrote.

"The plane wanted to move across to the right side of the taxiway, and I had to use the tiller to try to bring it back, then it wanted to move quickly over to the left side, so I decided to stop, and return to the gate to get the steering checked out.

That was when ATC announced "Jishin, jishin! [Earthquake, earthquake!] All aircraft stop in present position. Earthquake."

"I stopped and set the parking brake, then the whole aircraft began to roll and shake so forcefully. It was lucky everybody was seated with their seatbelts fastened, it was like an amusement park ride."

The pilot said he requested permission from the airline to taxi back to the gate to offload passengers, but received no answer.

Eventually, when he raised someone on the ground, they told him not to move the plane, as passengers and staff had spilled out of the terminal in panic onto the runway apron, and if he moved the plane, he risked "ingesting" a passenger in the plane's engines.

The pilot said the plane sat on the runway for four hours before the plane was allowed to be moved on the field.

You can read the full account from the pilot -- who is not identified -- at the Pilot Reports forum.

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About danwarne

Dan is a tech enthusiast who frequently qualifies for enhanced airport security screening due to the number of cords and gadgets stuffed into his cabin bag.

 

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