American Airlines Flight Drops Over 15,000 Feet in Just Minutes

An American Airlines flight en route to Florida experienced a sudden drop of over 15,000 feet within a three-minute span, according to flight records. The flight, numbered 5916, departed from Charlotte, North Carolina, on Thursday, with Gainesville, Florida as its destination. The crew reported a potential pressurization issue during the flight, as confirmed by a representative from the Federal Aviation Administration.

The aircraft managed to land safely at Gainesville Regional Airport just before 5 p.m. Among the passengers was Harrison Hove, a professor at the University of Florida, who described the incident as “terrifying” in a social media post. Hove, a frequent flyer, commended the flight crew and pilots of American Airlines Flight 5916 for their handling of the situation.

Hove’s social media posts also detailed the sensory experiences during the incident, including a burning smell, a loud bang, and popping ears. FlightAware data corroborated Hove’s account, showing that the flight experienced a nearly 20,000-foot drop within an 11-minute period.

Passengers were understandably frightened as the plane rapidly lost altitude. Hove shared photos of the harrowing flight once the plane had stabilized. Oxygen masks were deployed from the overhead compartments due to the swift decrease in altitude. Approximately 43 minutes into the flight, the plane descended 18,600 feet in just six minutes.

Hove speculated on social media that a midflight failure had caused the cabin to depressurize. He suggested that the burning smell could have been a result of the use of oxygen canisters. He also noted that the wing flaps were extended to quickly lower the plane’s altitude, increasing the oxygen level. Despite the terrifying experience, Hove confirmed that the situation was ultimately resolved safely.

In a statement, an American Airlines spokesperson attributed the sudden altitude drop to a pressurization issue. The spokesperson stated, “American Eagle flight 5916, operated by Piedmont Airlines, from Charlotte (CLT) to Gainesville, Florida (GNV) landed safely in GNV on Thursday, August 10. While in flight, the crew received an indication of a possible pressurization issue and immediately and safely descended to a lower altitude. We apologize to our customers for any inconvenience and thank our team for their professionalism.”