A loud boom from outside a Chicago home Monday turned out to be from a United Airlines jetliner’s emergency slide hitting the side of the house after falling from the aircraft.
United isn’t providing answers about how it happened – an investigation is underway.
But the family that found the big plane part is just glad no one was hurt.
“It hit … the downspout and came straight down,” said Patrick Devitt, pointing to his house.
It landed in a garden and “smashed” lots of plants, “stuff like that,” Devitt said.
United officials said the slide fell from a Boeing 767 as it was flying into O’Hare International Airport from Switzerland.
Devitt’s house is under a flight path, right near O’Hare. But he said this incident was a first.
“A couple of inches, you know, further to the east, and it would have landed right on the house,” Devitt said. “So we’re very lucky.”
They were especially lucky considering Devitt’s 2-year-old son was inside eating lunch with his grandfather.
Devitt said he and his father-in-law dragged the 6-foot-by-6-foot crumpled slide into the front yard and called police and other authorities.
“The lady that we spoke to at the Department of Aviation had said to us, ‘Well how do you know it’s from an airplane?'” Devitt recalled. “‘Well, because there’s a giant slide in our backyard that’s bigger than a car, ma’am. Of course it’s from an airplane.'”
United said there were 155 passengers and 10 crewmembers on board, adding that the crew didn’t realize the slide was missing until the plane landed. Maintenance workers at O’Hare also noticed it.
Police came to the house and confirmed the slide had indeed fallen from a plane.
“I think we’re seeing here there could be a pattern,” said transportation expert Joe Schwieterman, of DePaul University.
The same thing happened in Boston in 2019. An investigation found an improperly closed door caused an emergency slide to fall from a Delta 767-300 into the Boston suburb of Milton.
“Given there have been some past concerns about this device, I think we’re going to have a full investigation,” Schwieterman said.
That’s what United Airlines and the Federal Aviation Administration say will happen.
Devitt says he plans to keep in touch with United.
“We’ll be in contact with them for sure,” he remarked.