How did two pilots overshoot intended airport by 150 miles? - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

How did two pilots overshoot intended airport by 150 miles?

MINNEAPOLIS, MN (NBC) - Air traffic controllers were so concerned when Northwest flight 188 flew past 15 miles Minneapolis Wednesday night, they were ready to scramble fighter jets to intercept the plane.

There were 13 separate attempts by different air traffic controllers to try to establish communications with northwest 188.

So, were the pilots dozing off or distracted? Either way, for the 145 passengers on board, it was a wild ride.

Lynn Jacobs was on that plane from San Diego when it overshot Minneapolis and went all the way to Eau Claire, Wisconsin, before pilots realized they'd gone too far

"They announced that we would be landing in twenty minutes," said passenger Lynn Jacobs. "And then about twenty minutes later they said we would be landing in fifteen minutes and then it was a longer period of time after that."

It was more than an hour before pilots finally landed the plane. They told officials they had been in a heated discussion and lost track of the radio and flight path.

In the air, officials made them do turns to prove it was the right people still at the controls.

But now the real unraveling begins. The plane's black boxes are at the NTSB in Washington, DC, but they may not have all the information officials were hoping for. The plane's older model cockpit voice recorder only has 30 minutes of tape, which would be after pilots realized their mistake.

The NTSB will try to get more answers from those pilots when they interview them next week. The pilots have been suspended.

Copyright 2009 WIS. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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