A Thomaston man who was onboard a Delta flight helped fellow passengers evacuate the plane as smoke filled the cabin soon after landing at Denver International Airport on Tuesday.
“It took a minute but shortly thereafter panic started to ensue, people started yelling,” said Jay Compton, of Thomaston.
Cellphone video captured Compton and others standing at the end of an emergency slide helping passengers off the slide and onto the tarmac.
“What people don’t realize is when you hit that slide, you go down really fast, because you’re maybe 10, 12 feet in the air,” said Compton.
Compton had left Connecticut and was headed to Denver for work.
While on a layover in Detroit, he said he and other Denver-bound passengers were taken off one plane because it had mechanical issues.
But it appears the second plane had its own problems soon after touching down in Denver.
As flight 1854 taxied to the gate, the 146 passengers realized something was wrong.
“Smoke started to come out at a fairly rapid rate from somewhere in the overhead vents,” said Compton.
On cellphone video, the flight crew can be heard instructing passengers to take cover: “Ladies and gentlemen please lower yourself, get as low as you can.”
After an evacuation was ordered, people exited over the wing or jumped out using the plane’s emergency slides.
Compton was one of the first to leave and said he was happy to help others off the MD-80 aircraft.
While he’s glad the smoke didn’t appear mid-air, the experience does not change his mind about flying again.
“It’s a bucket list item that most people don’t realize you sort of have until it happens. Hopefully it doesn’t happen again,” said Compton.
One person was taken to a hospital and there’s no word on their condition.
A Delta spokeswoman said the smoke was caused by a small amount of hydraulic fluid that dripped onto a hot power unit and investigators did not find any fire on board the plane.