A Lufthansa passenger said the severe turbulence that forced the flight to make an emergency landing was 'definitely the scariest moment' of his life
A passenger onboard the Lufthansa flight that made an emergency landing due to severe turbulence said people and food went flying during a "serious drop."
It was "definitely the scariest moment of my life," Hunter Wynns told Insider.
Seven people were injured on the flight that was headed for Frankfurt, Germany.
Hunter Wynns was just trying to make it to Spain to see Thursday's Real Madrid game in person.
Instead, Insider spoke to him while he was watching the game from an airport bar near Washington, DC, after his Lufthansa flight from Austin, Texas, to Frankfurt, Germany made an emergency landing at Dulles International Airport following a bout of rough turbulence over Memphis, Tennessee.
"It was definitely the scariest moment of my life," Wynns told Insider, referring to the moment the flight, out of nowhere, dropped thousands of feet in what Wynns estimated was six seconds.
For the first 90 minutes of the trip, Wynns, a frequent flyer, said nothing was out of the ordinary, and it was a "cool flight" because there weren't many passengers and he was able to secure a seat in an exit row by himself that he didn't pay for.
"I would have loved for that flight to work out, but it didn't," Wynns said.
The crew was almost finished serving dinner and the fasten seatbelt sign was turned off when they hit the abnormally severe turbulence over Memphis.
"You kind of feel a drop and then the drop just kept happening," Wynns recalled. He said passengers on the plane were "screaming and freaking out" as they — and their dinners — flew out of their seats, causing a chaotic mess in the cabin.
Seven people were injured during the "serious drop," and Wynns said the flight crew was attending to those who needed medical attention on board. Others had panic attacks in the aftermath. One man, clearly stressed from the flight's events, lit up a cigarette in the lavatory, Wynns said.
"It was pretty surreal," Wynns said.
They still had six hours to go until Frankfurt.
"I didn't know what they were going to do for a little bit," Wynns said of the moments following the turbulence. "There were probably 10 minutes when I didn't know if we were just going to kind of act like this didn't happen or if we're just going to land, or if we're just going to freak out for the next 6 hours or what was going on."
Wynns admitted he thought they were flying over the Atlantic Ocean when the plane dropped.
"I really didn't know what was going to happen. I just knew that we were going down really fast and I thought that was it … we're going into the Atlantic," he said.
After initial silence from the cockpit, the pilot reassured passengers that they had gotten tangled in a storm over Memphis and that they were figuring it out.
The pilots had turned the fasten seatbelt sign back on at this point. Passengers were waiting to see the seatbelt light switch off again, Wynns said, because they thought that if the fasten seatbelt light was off, they were safe. It never turned back off.
About five minutes after their first announcement, the pilot told the plane they'd be making an emergency stop in DC, citing the dirty plane as the reason for landing. Thankfully, the trip from Memphis to DC was smooth.
"This was so-called clear air turbulence, which can occur without visible weather phenomena or advance warning," a Lufthansa spokesperson previously told Insider.
While Wynns said tensions were high among passengers, overall, people behaved themselves and calmly talked to each other on the plane during those uncertain moments — there was a "sense of community," he said.
After landing at Dulles around 9 p.m. local time, Wynns said he was booked on a new flight by 1 a.m. and that Lufthansa gave him vouchers for a hotel, dinner, and breakfast while he waited to depart.
Wynns said the experience was "tough" and that "it rattled me," but now that he knows he is safe, he is excited to tell the story to those he meets in hostels as he travels solo around Spain and Portugal.
"I lost my AirPods in the Uber on the way to the airport and I thought that was going to be the worst part of the trip," Wynns told Insider. "Now, I just hope this was actually the worst part of the trip."
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