United flight forced to land on Midway Island - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

United flight forced to land on Midway Island

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 by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - As all eyes were on the skies on Friday tracking a storm. However one emergency flew under the radar.

24-year-old Manny Moreno was one of more than 300 people on board United Airlines Flight 201 from Honolulu, Hawaii to Guam even before take off there were signs of trouble. "Prior to us leaving we were at the terminal for four and a half hours in Hawaii they told us it was because the captain had smelled something that seemed to be burning and he wanted to verify that nothing was wrong," he recalled.

The all clear was given for take off - Moreno who was moving from Texas to Guam was excited that after a year apart would soon be reuniting with this girlfriend who lives on Guam. That is until, "People started to say they felt the plane was turning around."

Moreno thought nothing of it fell asleep only to wake up. "I look over I saw sand on the beach and this huge rock and I thought I've been to Guam a few times and that's not Guam," he said.

The captain came over the intercomm to inform everyone they were on Midway Island a remote two and half square mile atoll in the North Pacific Ocean and a former naval base. It currently is the site of a wildlife refuge. The passengers were told only to grab their carryon baggage, as Moreno said, "We were told right off the bat that they have inadequate equipment there due to the fact that it was so outdated it's just an emergency runaway."

After waiting about an hour outside an abandoned hangar, Moreno says they were taken by golf carts to an old gymnasium. 40 midway residents made them feel comfortable. "They did a really good job. They were surprised they're not used to this  when this happened they were able to whip up some breakfast for everyone. Some eggs, bacon rice and even fried rice they fed everyone and everyone stayed in a relatively good mood," he said.

Moreno says no one really knew exactly what happened until the captain finally spoke. "He said that there wasn't an actual fire but something electrical was burning  and because of that they lost certain radios and radar we didn't know it was that bad until we had landed. 337 so thankfully he didn't scare us or anything like that," he said.

After waiting several more hours, Moreno says another plane arrived to pick them up and take them back to Hawaii. From there he got back on another flight to Guam and arrived Saturday evening. "Overall it wasn't the best flight I've ever had it was not too bad I guess due to the circumstances and situation everyone handled it pretty well," he said.

In a statement from United Airlines corporate communications the flight was diverted to midway due to a mechanical issue and said it regrets any inconvenience experienced by its customers. We should also add because the passengers only were able to take their carryon luggage with them on their flight back to Hawaii. Their check-in luggage is scheduled to arrive this evening.
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