JetBlue Flight, that never made it to JFK, 'Four hours of Hell'

7:46 AM, Jun 21, 2012   |    comments
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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Four hours of hell.

That's how passengers described a JetBlue flight headed to New York that ran into serious problems right after it left McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas on Sunday.

"My Vegas luck ran out," passenger Tom Mizer told CBS 2's Sean Hennessey.

Mizer was safe at home in Brooklyn on Wednesday night, but said he and many of the 155 on board felt anything but safe once JetBlue Flight 194 began its trip to John F. Kennedy International Airport.

"Kind of sounded like when landing gears are trying to go down but it was much louder," Mizer said. "Everyone could feel there was something wrong."

The pilot relayed the problem to air traffic control.

Pilot: "We got some hydraulic issues here we've got to deal with."

"That was probably the scariest single moment. There was a gasp on the plane as people kind of took in, okay, we're in a serious situation," Mizer said.

The plane had suffered a double hydraulic failure.

Air Traffic Control: "Did you want to head east bound or stay in our airspace?"

Pilot: "I'd like to stay close to the airport."

Then just moments later the pilot said, "I'd like to declare an emergency at this time."

Because the A320 can't dump fuel, the pilot had to burn it off, which meant two and a half hours of circling. During that time, there were sharp turns, unpredictable bumps and frazzled nerves.

"That was probably the scariest part, for two and a half hours, every bump, even if it was a normal turbulence bump, you just didn't know how much control they had over the plane," Mizer said.

Other passengers said they were terrified, and nauseous - many became sick.

S.E. Cupp, a columnist for the Daily News, Tweeted "The plane turned into a vomitorium. For five hours. And, after all that, I'm still in Vegas."

"It was four hours of hell," passenger Travis McGhie told the New York Post when describing how the plane kept lurching from side to side and going into steep turns mid-air.

Through it all, Mizer said it was the flight attendants who kept things calm, including one in particular.

"She was smiling. She looked at me and said 'I'm smiling. Do I look scared to you? If I'm not scared you don't need to be scared.' That helped, that kind of contact," Mizer said.

Once it was safe for an emergency landing, Flight 194 came back to the airport. The landing was captured on camera.

"There was a roar of cheers as we knew, okay, we are down and safe. They had brakes. It's all okay," Mizer said.

JetBlue issued the following statement: "At no time was there a total loss of hydraulics. Aircraft are built with redundancies in place and in this instance the system worked as it should have."

All of the passengers were transferred to other flights to New York.

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