UNITED STATES – A schoolteacher Bob Sauer made an astonishing discovery on 7 January as he ventured into his tree-filled backyard in the Cedar Hills suburb of Portland, Oregon.
He found a crucial part of a Boeing 737 MAX 9 that had torn off an Alaska Airlines jet during a flight on Friday, (5 Jan) at an altitude of approximately 16,000 feet (4,877 m).
Missing plane part found in man’s backyard trees
US authorities, working with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), had earlier asked Cedar Hills residents for assistance in finding the missing door plug.
They deemed it a crucial element in the investigation into the incident that resulted in an emergency landing.
Sauer, armed with a flashlight, recounted his discovery to news agency Reuters on Monday, (8 Jan).
“In the flashlight beam, I could see that there was something gleaming white underneath the trees in the back that isn’t normally there,” he said.
“It was very obviously part of a plane. It had the same curvature as a fuselage, it had a plane-type window in it, and it was white.”
The identified object turned out to be a mid-cabin door plug that is used to replace an exit that would be installed on planes configured to carry more passengers.
Sauer, a science teacher, emphasized the educational irony of the situation, mentioning that his students had recently been studying the physics principles of impulse and momentum.
“My heart did start beating a little fast at that point because I thought: Oh my goodness, people have been looking for this all weekend, and it looks like it is in my backyard!” he exclaimed.
The found panel has been promptly sent to an NTSB lab in Washington for thorough examination, shedding light on potential insights into the circumstances surrounding the incident.
NTSB representatives arrived at Sauer’s residence to collect the discovered piece, conducting a detailed examination even in the midst of rainfall.
Sauer believes that the trees in his backyard acted as a natural airbag, preventing any significant damage to the door plug during its fall.
“I don’t think the door was damaged at all by the fall,” he stated.
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