But the plane, carrying Houston Astros fans to their team’s game against the Red Sox in Boston, never gained altitude at takeoff and crashed into a fence before bursting into flames.
“Going down the runway, and it just all the sudden they slammed on the brakes,” the passenger, who didn’t want to be named, told KHOU.
“Things were flying around and when it finally came to a stop, they just said ‘Get out, get out’ because we thought it was going to explode,” the man said. “It was already on fire before we got out of it!”
Miraculously, there were no major injuries among the crew and passengers. The emergency slides deployed, and passengers were able to slide down to safety.
The investigation into the crash could take between 12 and 18 months, said Michael Graham, board member with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
The NTSB investigation team “will be on site for about a week or two weeks gathering evidence of this accident, perishable evidence, and that is all we will be doing at this time,” Graham said.
The passengers “were stunned, they were very, very stunned,” Tim Gibson, Waller-Harris Emergency Services district director, told reporters.
“Any time you have a plane that doesn’t make a landing on a runway like it should, we’re always expecting the worst but hoping for the best, and today we absolutely, positively got the best outcome we can hope for on this,” Gibson said.
James Kent, the owner of the MD-87, was on board the flight, according to Kent’s aviation counsel and spokesperson, David Norton.
Kent is shaken up and not giving interviews for now, Norton said.
Two minor injuries
Two people were transported to a hospital with minor injuries, local officials said.
Graham shared details on the crash, saying that as the plane, which is a general aviation flight, attempted to take off from the runway, it exited the paved surface and struck the perimeter fence of the airport.
The debris path extending beyond the airport fence suggests that the left wing struck trees before coming to its final resting place, according to Graham.
“The majority of the fire damage occurred after the aircraft came to rest,” he said.
“The NTSB has secured the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder and they are currently en route to Washington, DC, to be downloaded. We do note that both the recorders had suffered heavy fire damage,” he said.
The cause of the crash hasn’t been determined.
Norton said his team is cooperating with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the NTSB.
“The information we have at this time indicates that the plane did not attain altitude at the end of the runway and went across Morton Road, coming to a rest in the field just north of the airport, where it caught on fire,” Waller County Judge Trey Duhon reported via Facebook.
The plane traveled about 500 feet on the runaway before the crash, Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman Sgt. Stephen Woodard said.
The MD-87 “rolled through a fence and caught fire in a field” just after 10 a.m. while attempting to depart, the FAA said in a statement.
One passenger had respiratory issues, according to Woodard. Another reported back pain, Duhon said.