MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho went back to work on in Miami Friday after he was on a plane that had to make an emergency landing Thursday night.
Carvalho was on American Airlines flight 3454 which left Tallahassee headed to Miami.
In addition, to Carvalho, Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart was on the plane.
Carvalho arrived in South Florida via a different flight. Diaz-Balart and his wife Tia drove back to Miami.
“It was one of those experiences you hope not to experience but when you do, it really puts things back into focus,” said Carvalho.
Carvalho told CBS4 News there was an explosion and the pilots had to descend 10-thousand feet in just one minute.
“About 35-40 minutes int the flight some people heard a boom. We heard a boom in the back and I was all the way in the back and immediately thereafter there was a smell of smoke,” said Carvalho. “We saw the flight attendant becoming very emotional and running up and down and finally strapping himself, struggling to read the instructions…when they said put your head between your legs and brace yourself, that’s when people started praying and becoming quite worried.”
The plane landed normally at 9:30 p.m., said American Airlines spokeswoman Laura Masvidal. Masvidal said there was a smell of smoke, but she was not aware of an explosion.
Once everyone was safely off the plane, Carvalho posed for a selfie with Congressman Diaz-Balart and his wife Tia, along with a few others who were on the flight.
“The pilots took a turn and frankly brought the plane down absolutely under control—absolutely smoothly—but clearly a lot quicker than your used to when you’re flying commercial airplanes,” said Mario Diaz-Balart.
It was a moment of relief after the tense emergency landing.
Carvalho said he and a 19-year-old South Florida student who was next to him on the plane, helped each other through the ordeal.
“Her father happens to be a pilot for American Airlines so she knows a little something about flying and she told me this is not good and she thought that this was the end,. I hugged her, I held her hand and in the end everything turned out ok,” said Carvalho.
During the landing, they braced for impact by putting their heads between their legs. He said he knew they were safe once firefighters rushed onto the plane.
Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart also sent out a tweet Thursday night and thanked the flight crew and first responders.
The flight had 46 passengers and 3 crew members.
Nobody was hurt.