FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – An Allegiant Air flight attendant was injured Sunday when the plane’s pilot “took evasive action” to avoid a mid-air collision over South Florida, the Federal Aviation Administration said.
After Flight 485 to Kentucky was taking off from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, “the pilot received an automatic alert about another aircraft at the same altitude,” the FAA said.
An air traffic controller at the Miami Air Route Traffic Control Center had instructed the plane “to turn eastbound at an altitude of 23,000 feet when it crossed in front of a northbound Gulfstream business jet,” the FAA said.
The pilot of the Gulfstream jet also took evasive action after receiving a similar alert, the FAA said.
The Allegiant plane returned to Fort Lauderdale airport, where the injured flight attendant was treated for injuries, said the FAA, which added that it is investigating the incident.
Allegiant declined to comment on the incident.
‘We went straight up,’ said the passenger
One of the Allegiant passengers, Jerrica Thacker, 21, told CNN that the plane suddenly “went straight up” in the air.
“It really felt like a roller coaster,” said Thacker, who was trying to fly home with family to Kentucky. “We went up and down and then leveled out.”
“It felt like we were nose diving, but we later found out we were going straight up. … I was terrified.”
Two flight attendants fell backwards as the plane took off, one of whom remained on the ground for five minutes before being helped up and escorted to the back of the plane, Thacker said.
“The flight crew asked if there were any medically trained people on the plane,” she added.
About 20 minutes into the maneuver, the pilot told passengers over the intercom that the plane was returning to Fort Lauderdale and that he had to make the sharp maneuver to avoid a collision, Thacker said.
After the pilot relayed the message, Thacker saw people praying and crying, she said.
“I looked forward and tried my best to breathe to avoid a panic attack,” she said.
Instead of getting back on a plane, Thacker and her family rented a car and drove 15 hours to Kentucky, she said.
“We were all too shaken to fly again,” she said.
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