November 19th, 2010
09:19 AM ET

Passenger on windshield crack: How can it happen?

On a Delta flight from Atlanta, Georgia to Orange County, California the captain came on the loud-speaker saying there was a problem in the cockpit – the cockpit windshield had cracked - and they needed to make an emergency landing in Dallas/Ft. Worth.

Passenger Mike Fleming was on the flight, updating his Facebook status while it was happening and took a photo of the damaged windshield. Fleming  spoke to American Morning’s Kiran Chetry about the sudden emergency situation at 34,000 feet mid-air.

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soundoff (411 Responses)
  1. 1000 Uses

    Nothing a little duct tape couldn't take care of...

    November 19, 2010 at 9:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Group W Bench

      In the airlines, we call it speed tape.

      November 19, 2010 at 9:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Skeptic

      Right, the black type especially. Just cover it all over.

      November 19, 2010 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
    • BC in BA

      That's the problem – the existing duck tape let go.

      November 19, 2010 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Why doesn't the media get some facts before they publish something. Planes can practically land themselves. No windshields needed.
      Please CNN find an aviation expert that knows something and let that person review it before you post it. My pickup had a crack in the windshield and you didn't report on it!!

      November 19, 2010 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      The silver aluminum tape is what the aircraft industry uses.

      November 19, 2010 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
    • BC in BA

      Mike, your pickup's windshield didn't risk complete and instant decompression at 34,000 ft. Remember Payne Stewart's plane? No one told the aircraft to "automatically land itself", because they were all dead.

      November 19, 2010 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Sunny Guy

      Unless you tend to cruise at 600MPH at 34,000 feet, in your pickup, I really don't imagine it's at all the same sort of thing.

      Sunny Guy

      November 19, 2010 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
    • SolarPowered

      @Mike If you aren't familiar with British Airways Flight 5390, you might want to look it up. Things could have been so much worse with this. Good ting the captain knew what to do. Not always the case.

      November 19, 2010 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Stupid is as Stupid does

      @ Mike: You say the media should get its facts straight, yet you speak as if you are an authority on a subject about which you clearly are not an expert.

      November 19, 2010 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
    • ApeHanger

      Was this windscreen crack going down or was it a crack up?

      November 19, 2010 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
    • ApeHanger

      My pickup had a crack in the windshield and you didn't report on it!!

      Your windshield isn't the only thing with a crack in it. Check your head, please.

      November 19, 2010 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
    • None OfyourBis

      Where is the "How can it happen?" part of this news story? No investigation was done or speculated on. Poor effort from the reporter.

      November 19, 2010 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Mechanical Engineer

      Mike, you obviously don't know anything about science or aviation. If you want we can send you up in a big pressurized vessel and then suddenly blow open a big hole in it at 34k feet and see what happens, but I would advise against it.

      November 19, 2010 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
    • steve

      this guy just wanted to get on the news. airplane windows might crack, but then again the engine might fall off, a bird can fly into the engine, blah blah. The captain did what he was trainied to do. end of news story

      November 19, 2010 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Jim


      "Planes can practically land themselves. No windshields needed." Well, they still need pilots to land it and at 34,000 feet the air pressure is much less than at sea level. Not to mention a reduced air pressure due to the high air speed flow over the airplane. A sudden drop in pressure can knock people out. The plane will land itself then, nose first.

      November 19, 2010 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Angela

      Agree with Gary. I used to work on aircraft in the military and cracked windows are pretty frequent. All along the edges of the windows you will have terminal ends that help heat the windshield and sometimes they go bad and the window will crack. When the windows crack, it isn't all the layers so you don't decompress. We also had one crack because of a rabbit strike once, a bird dropped a rabbit on the windshield as the plane was taking off. We don't fill out rabbit strike reports that often. hehe

      November 19, 2010 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      The military used duct tape for their plane repairs for years, why shouldn't the aviation industry. Don't believe me? Look up '100 mph tape'.

      November 19, 2010 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shaun Hemken

      Windshields on commercial aircraft have numerous paynes. So if the outer payne cracks or has any damage, the structural integrity of the remaining paynes will keep the aircraft pressurized until it lands. Most aircraft are designed with back-up systems to all of their systems. Some even have a back-up for their backp-up. Aviation is safer than any other type of transportation. Due in part to trained pilots, trained mechanics, and billions of dollars for research and developement in designing and maintaining an aircraft.

      November 19, 2010 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Do all of you know what an aircraft windshield is made of and all the testing involved to make the aircraft airworthy? Did the aircraft have synthetic vision installed. Aircraft winshields are made with many layers of glass and are tested to withstand a hit from a bird at the aircraft's highest speed . Your more likely to die from decompression from fatigue cracking caused by incorrectly installed rivets or disbonded composites. Any aviation experts out there yet?

      November 19, 2010 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lee Bartholomew

      wonder if the 100mph tape will do? hmm Gorilla tape Red Green style..

      November 19, 2010 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      An aviation expert thanks Angela. Ives worked an been around aviation but by no means I'm an expert. Torks me off that the media doesn't have a clue when reporting. For this article it would be beneficial if they said if it actually decompressed

      November 19, 2010 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • James

      If cracked windshields are not a big deal why make an emergency landing? What determines if an emergency landing is made?

      If it is nothing then they just wated a lot of peoples' time.

      November 19, 2010 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Drobes

    What I dont understand is how up was the plane and why was Mr. Fleming updating his facebook?? Everyflight I have ever been on they tell you not to do that? So did Mr. Fleming break the law, just so he can be the first to report on it??

    November 19, 2010 at 9:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Anarka

      you can get on your phone when you're at cruising elevation... just not when youre taking off or landing

      November 19, 2010 at 9:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      From the Delta Website: You can get online as soon as you reach 10,000 feet and the captain gives the okay to turn on portable electronic devices.

      November 19, 2010 at 9:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Bobo Jones

      Welcome to 2010. It's called in-flight internet. Most airlines have it now on flights over two hours.

      November 19, 2010 at 9:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Zozk

      Inflight internet! Did you hear Michael Jackson died?

      November 19, 2010 at 9:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Ian

      Did you watch the video at all?

      It clearly states he was updating via in-flight WiFi.

      November 19, 2010 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      It's called Wi-Fi. I thought the same thing when I first read it, but if you research a bit, you can see the majority of the airlines offer it on some, but not all of their planes.

      November 19, 2010 at 10:31 am | Report abuse |
    • dear drobes

      you are an idiot.

      November 19, 2010 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
    • jeff george

      Lots of wrong info on here. You may NOT use your phone or wireless internet on a plane in this country. Once they close the door, you may NOT use your phone again until you are on the ground and in taxi. However, if the plane has inflight internet, then you can update, but not a lot of planes have it.

      November 19, 2010 at 10:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Old School

      Behind the times??? Most airlines offer in-flight Wifi these days – everyone's on a laptop or phone gadget fooling with it in the air these days after 10000 feet is passed – wouldn't want your friends to miss 1 hot second of your boring life!

      Drobes and Doug – you need a brain transplant, there is something really, really wrong with your wiring...

      November 19, 2010 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
    • anton

      right. Not supposed to turn on electronic equipment while on flight. cellphones or laptops.

      November 19, 2010 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Stupid is as Stupid does

      @ Jeff George: You CAN use your phone, however it must be turned to airplane or game mode. Pay attention the next time you fly.

      November 19, 2010 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
    • NClost

      just flew this week and each plane had wi-fi except for the puddle jumper.

      November 19, 2010 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Mary

      Remind me not to fly with any of you idiots. You can NOT use your personal cell - EVER. Yikes. However - many flights have on-board WiFi. The report says that's what he was using.

      November 19, 2010 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Stupid is as Stupid does

      @Mary: You're so uninformed. You can't make calls or connect to a satellite, however you can turn it on after you are past 10,000 feet and use it in airplane or game mode. This allows you to play games, use your calendar, look at pictures, watch videos on your phone or whatever. You just can connect to the satellite your phone uses. If a plane has Wi-Fi, you can connect to the Wi-Fi as well. I am so sick of people who are so ignorant and just talk with no foundation for their commentary.

      November 19, 2010 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Stupid is as Stupid does

      ...excuse me, you CAN'T connect to the sattelite.

      November 19, 2010 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
    • erica

      @Stupid- first off, cell phones do not connect to sats, those would be sat phones! Your cell phone connects to a cell tower, which is impossible to connect to at 34,000 feet, one your too high, and 2 your traveling to fast for your phone to keep connecting and disconnecting between new towers as you went by.
      For the rest of you, I suggest you read the Federal Aviation Regualtions (FAR) before you start sputtering off stupid statements about what you can and cant do with electronics on a plane! And if your questioning my expertise, I have read the entrie FAR every year since 2002!

      November 19, 2010 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Manny

    Was he following a dump truck carrying a load of gravel ? I hate it when that happens.

    November 19, 2010 at 9:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Richp, Easton, Pa

      I agree, especially when you can see the rock fall off, bounce a few times and have no where to go

      November 19, 2010 at 9:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      The passengers and crew were fortunate indeed when that truck tire came flying over the median...

      November 19, 2010 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Manny

      Air traffic control is to blame, they never should have let the two pass so closely.

      November 19, 2010 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Just Sayin'

      It's Bush's Fault

      November 19, 2010 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Clearly

      Clinton's fault.

      November 19, 2010 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Stupid is as Stupid does

      Obama's fault. Must be due to his Socialist agenda.........

      November 19, 2010 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Shelly

      John Q. Adams fault!

      November 19, 2010 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
    • dump truck driver

      I'm a dump truck driver and in 30 yrs have only had (1) complaint from a pilot whose windshield cracked from a stone I was hauling, and it's because he was tailgating me!!! TO ALL PILOTS–DONT FOLLOW SO CLOSE!!!

      November 19, 2010 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • MOJ

      You (and your subsequent commentators) brightened my morning with your comments. Gave me a good chuckle.

      November 19, 2010 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
  4. la la

    Same happened to me on a Virgin Express flight from Brussels to Barcelona. We were in the air for maybe ten minutes when the pilot announced we would turn around and make an emergency landing in Brussels. It happens.

    November 19, 2010 at 9:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      It does happen! I worked in the AF on the flightline and had a number of reports of windshield cracks. Some times it was from the glass being heated for ice build up and fog. The heating eliments sometimes overheat and cause the glass to heat and crack when cold rain or fluid hit the glass. I never saw any windshields go beyond just a crack, but none the less it is serious! Things break and we like to think 'why wasn't that found before it broke'. just listen to that statement and we should all understand that nature and physics rule!

      November 19, 2010 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
  5. JT


    Thankfully, we can laugh about using duct tape on the crack as opposed to hearing a story about the plane decompressing, etc. and a tragedy.

    November 19, 2010 at 9:37 am | Report abuse |
    • suburban tex

      He got the picture when he was de-planing brilliance.

      November 19, 2010 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
  6. Al

    >>>Passenger Mike Fleming was on the flight, updating his Facebook status while it was happening and took a photo of the damaged windshield.>>>

    How did passenger Mike Fleming gain access to the flight deck in an emergency situation to take the photo?

    November 19, 2010 at 9:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      AI had you watched the video of the news cast you would have know that the passenger took the photo as he was exiting the plane after landing.

      November 19, 2010 at 9:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Antonio

      Did you actually watch the video? he took the picture while they were disembarking...

      November 19, 2010 at 9:54 am | Report abuse |
    • A CNN Reader

      I agree with the original poster... The NEWS said he took a picture of it as it was happening.... If he took a picture of it AFTER they landed, then what the wonderful news media reported WAS A LIE!

      November 19, 2010 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Stupid is as Stupid does says "updating his Facebook status while it was happening and took a photo of the damaged windshield"... although it is written in a way that one could easily interpret that he took the picture while it was happening, the word AND does not necissarily mean the two actions were taking place at the same time. It should have read: "updating his Facebook status while it was happening. He also managed to take a photo of the damaged windshield while exiting the plane."

      November 19, 2010 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
  7. jon

    This coincides with the Leonid meteor shower. Maybe they need to add a meteor shield.

    November 19, 2010 at 9:38 am | Report abuse |
    • JRH

      They need to x-ray scan and then power grope all the meteors first though.. Just to be sure they're "safe".

      November 19, 2010 at 9:41 am | Report abuse |
  8. crazydan

    Remember crack kills!

    November 19, 2010 at 9:39 am | Report abuse |
  9. john

    He waited until they were getting off! DAAH!

    November 19, 2010 at 9:40 am | Report abuse |
  10. dwayne

    im a pilot and what cracked on the windshield was the outside pane and not the window.. its a 10 ply window and if the outside pane cracks there is no danger to the aircraft or crew or has happened to me several times before.

    November 19, 2010 at 9:43 am | Report abuse |
    • NeTxJoe

      That would still have to be a scary feeling. Knowing there was only one pane of glass between you and the atmosphere at 34000 feet. You guys have a stomach that is a lot less nervous then mine lol.

      November 19, 2010 at 9:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      If the windscreen DID completely fail, I seem to recall a training scenario just for that as well.
      AND safety glasses to wear for the wind. And MUCH nicer oxygen masks than the toys that pop out of the ceiling in the passenger cabin.

      November 19, 2010 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Texas Pete

      Still, getting a facefull of windscreen at 600 knots probably isn't much fun

      November 19, 2010 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Moving...


    November 19, 2010 at 9:45 am | Report abuse |
  12. Tom

    Maybe Mike should be less concerned about his Facebook page than getting that lazy eye fixed.

    November 19, 2010 at 9:45 am | Report abuse |
    • alypilot

      ...and maybe Tom should keep his crappy comments to himself.

      November 19, 2010 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Dear Alypolyp

      Are you a lazy eye owner as well? Sounds like it...

      November 19, 2010 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Stupid is as Stupid does

      Maybe Tom shoudl get his E.D. under control so he will stop making stupid comments about something you can't really help.

      November 19, 2010 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Dear Mr. Gump

      I just happen to live in America where I can say just about anything I want. My speech is protected. YOU must be extremely ignorant, to not know this. And some info for your poor bleeding-heart, lazy eyes can be improved with simple eye muscle exercises.

      November 20, 2010 at 1:35 am | Report abuse |
  13. RUSH

    The captain told the passengers that the windshield was cracked? Why would they say that over the loudspeaker? Usually there is just an indication that there is or may be a problem but Ive never heard of any specifics being mentioned in an overhead message from the crew.
    I suspect shenanigans...and I anticipate and look forward to the snarky comments

    November 19, 2010 at 9:53 am | Report abuse |
  14. Steve

    Once again CNN gets it wrong ! She called it a 737. This aircraft is NOT at 737.

    November 19, 2010 at 9:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Try again, troll

      "FAA spokesman Ian Gregor says Delta Flight 1795 declared an emergency Thursday while en route from Atlanta to John Wayne Airport in Orange County.

      Gregor says the Boeing 737 landed in Texas without incident at 12:29 p.m. Central Time."

      Seems the FAA disagrees with you...

      November 19, 2010 at 10:13 am | Report abuse |
  15. Rick

    Same thing happened to me on a Continental flight to Mexico. We diverted to Memphis and the pilot told me later that there are three panes to a windscreen. Between two of them are small wires that keep it heated to prevent frosting. Sometimes, the electricity arcs between the wires and when it does the integrity of the windscreen is degraded. On my flight two of the three panes shattered at 33,000'. Had the third pane shattered the windscreen would have blown out, not in, due to pressure differentials. The pilot said he knew this but instinctively ducked anyway.

    November 19, 2010 at 9:57 am | Report abuse |
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