(AUSTIN, TEXAS) – On a clear and sunny Wednesday morning, 33 year old air traffic controller Jada McFadden was clearing airplanes to takeoff and land like any other morning; nothing seemed unusual. Suddenly, she noticed something odd.
“Out of the corner of my eye, I saw probably 100 people, just running across one of the taxiways, it was absolutely nuts. At first I thought they were just a bunch of kids from SXSW who took way too much MDMA and wanted to rave at an airport, but then I noticed they were all jumping off of one of the planes over there at terminal 3.”
Immediately, McFadden stopped all arrivals and departures, essentially closing the airport, and sent airport police and fire to investigate. The pilots were not answering the radio. Shift supervisor Alex Letty then made an immediate decision to close the airport. Over 90 departures were cancelled, and 320 flights were diverted to nearby airports.
What caused the chaos and pandemonium?
From a highly televised press conference, airport supervisor Mark Porcaro filled in the gaps.
“As of right now, from what we understand, one of the people sitting in the front of the aircraft said something that prompted the evacuation of the aircraft.”
Numerous journalists were at the press conference, and asked for clarifying information.
“The aircraft was an Embraer ERJ-115. From what I understand, one of the passengers, who happened to be a journalist, said ‘I think the Boeing 737 MAX also has four engines.’ This prompted one of the passengers behind this individual to question if they were on a Maximum series 737. From there, the discussion propagated to the rear of the aircraft, and while we have a conflicting time-frame from witnesses, we believe it took about 30-45 seconds before the entire plane was evacuating out of every door on the aircraft, as well as the air-stairs in the rear.”
One flight attendant, who wished to remain anonymous, said she didn’t even know what was happening until she got out of the airplane.
“All I heard from the cabin was complete chaos and cacophony. Simple as that. It just sounded like the end of the world. It was honestly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard; and I’ve seen Coldplay live.”
As for Jada McFadden, she was shaken by the ordeal, but was quickly back to work. “It’s part of the job,” she said.
“Nothing in this industry surprises me anymore. Yesterday I even saw a Southwest flight that flied a route on an airway. What will be next, an Allegiant maintenance vehicle?’ she said, laughing.
While everyone escaped the false alarm uninjured, it was quite an emotional ordeal for the passengers.
“I opened the door and I jumped off the wing,” one passenger said. “I was even able to stream the whole thing on Instagram Live, so people know it happened.”
Studies show that by Summer 2020, if events are not documented on social media, many friends and family will be skeptical as to whether or not they actually happened.