Andres Gallegos had one thing on his mind as he sat in Seat 12A for his flight to Caracas: a weekend visit with his wife and kids.
In a flash, he had another thing on his mind: survival. First, he heard a loud bang. Then he peered out the window to see his plane on fire.
As Dynamic International Airways Flight 405 taxied toward the runway at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport just after 12:30 p.m. Thursday, the engine and wing burst into flames. That set off a rush for the exits for the 101 passengers and crew members on board.
“I was the second passenger leaving the aircraft,” said Gallegos, who works in Miami. “We spent probably 30 to 40 seconds before they opened the door. It was pretty nerve-racking to know the door wasn’t opening and something was on fire.” The dramatic scene, with thick black smoke pouring from the plane, had passengers sliding down emergency chutes and onto the taxiway.
Disaster averted. The Venezuela-bound Boeing 767 was 30 yards and minutes away from takeoff.
“It’s traumatic,” said airport spokesman Greg Meyer. “If you look out the window and see a fire, it’s not what you want to see.”