The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating a close call between a Spirit Airlines flight and a skydiving plane that forced the jetliner to nose-dive 1,600 feet, causing screaming passengers to fear the plane was going to crash.
The sudden drop caught unsuspecting passengers off guard as luggage spilled out of overhead bins during the incident Sunday evening over the skies of Michigan.
Traveling with her family, 19-year-old Gabrielle Maschke grabbed her 10-year-old sister and prepared for the worst.
“Right when we did that first drop, I grabbed my little sister,” she told ABC News. “I knew that shouldn’t have happened and that something bad is going to happen.”
The Spirit Airlines flight took off from Detroit Metropolitan Airport with 126 passengers on board en route to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport a little after 8 p.m. local time. As the plane was climbing off the runway, the pilot of the aircraft was told there was a skydiving plane nearby.
The Spirit pilot confirmed that he could see the smaller aircraft on his Terminal Collision Avoidance System, but suddenly an alarm went off in the cockpit, telling the pilot to dive from 14,400 to 12,800 feet.
At the closest, the two planes were 1.6 miles apart horizontally and 400 feet vertically, the FAA said.