Plane that missed MSP by 150 miles still baffling investigators


The National Transportation Safety Board is currently investigating the Minneapolis-bound Northwest Airlines plane that lost contact with air traffic control for one hour and missed the airport by 150 miles.

Details on the flight are slowly starting to emerge, so we've compiled some of the interesting details on what happened during the flight.

NTSB says that air traffic controllers lost radio contact with the plane around 6:56 p.m. Wednesday. There were 144 passengers on board and five crew members. The plane was at 37,000.

Around 7:45 p.m., the Denver ground control center turned over the flight to Minneapolis and the plane flew over the city at 7:58 p.m.

Contact was reestablished at 8:14 p.m. The crew said they had been distracted and asked to return to the airport. Their responses were so vague that officials worried the plane had been hijacked, so they asked the crew to do a serious of maneuvers to prove it was them in control of the plane. They also put fighter jets on alert in two locations in case they were needed.

More from the Pioneer Press:

A passenger on the flight, Lonnie Heidtke of Chippewa Falls, Wis., said the pilot announced about 8:30 p.m. that "we've been put into a holding pattern."

"We were flying in circles somewhere," he said.

The plane landed safely just after 9 p.m. in the Twin Cities. When it pulled up to the gate, "everybody stood up and got ready to exit," Heidtke said. "The flight attendant said, 'Everybody sit back down please.' "

Airport police came onto the plane to ensure there was no criminal activity on the plane.