Cedar Rapids Flight Makes Emergency Landing in Georgia

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By Katie Stinson
By Max Walker

ALBANY, Georgia - Passengers on Allegiant Air Flight 863 from Cedar Rapids to St. Petersburg-Clearwater made an emergency landing at the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport Sunday night. It's an airport meant for small charter flights.

"Normally, we have flights that leave here with Delta that have 50 seats," said airport director Yvette Aehle. She said emergency responders and airport employees volunteered their vehicles to get passengers out of the humid Georgia air to the terminal, where more help was waiting.

"We had the American Red Cross here, our local parks and recreation department had some drinks on palettes...as well as the airlines, who had also ordered 45 Papa John's pizzas," Aehle said.

Aehle says it then took some effort to get the luggage -- an amount her staff isn't used to dealing with -- back to the passengers waiting at the terminal.

Allegiant said none of the 161 people, 155 passengers and 6 crew, were hurt after the plane landed around 9 p.m. The airline said the pilot received a notification of a fire in the cargo area, leading to the emergency landing. A spokesperson for Allegiant Air said there was no confirmation of a fire on board the aircraft.

We received several photos from viewers who were on the flight, waiting for luggage and transport to their original destination. Erin Jones, a passenger on the flight, told KCRG.com she and the rest of the people on the flight were waiting for their luggage, as crew members evacuated the plane without allowing those on board to grab their carry-ons. Buses eventually arrived and took them to St. Petersburg on Monday morning.

Allegiant said there's no reason to believe that any other planes of this type -- an MD-80 series -- will have similar problems, calling them "fantastic airplanes that have a great, safe track record."

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