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Tue, Aug 14, 2007

Falling Plane Part Mistaken For UFO

Witness Thought Debris Was From Alien Craft

As the saying goes... when you hear hoofbeats, they're probably coming from horses, and not zebras. And when you come across a strange object that apparently fell from the sky, it's probably not an alien spaceship... but rather from a commercial airliner.

Such was the case this weekend, as Hilary Loewenstein walked her two dogs in a Maryland park, and saw a strange metal object near the path.

"I was like, 'Oh my God! I saw aliens! Aliens are here!' And I thought, 'How exciting!"' Loewenstein told The Washington Post.

Alas, the 25-pound chunk of metal wasn't an alien spaceship... but rather the landing gear door off a CRJ700 flying from Hartford, CT to Washington DC Saturday morning. The object landed near soccer fields, but no one was hurt.

"We were all very lucky," said Loewenstein. "It's so amazing that this piece of airplane didn't fall onto the zillions of houses right behind it."

United Airlines spokeswoman Robin Urbanski said the part fell off United Express Flight 7350, operated by Mesa Airlines.

"The landing gear door is not necessary to land the plane," Urbanski said. "Customers on the flight were always safe."

FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown said the agency planned to recover the debris Monday, and investigate why the jet shed the part.

"Various things fall off airplanes from time to time, but it's fairly unusual to have one of these landing-gear doors fall off," Brown said. "Airplanes are designed not to shed parts."

As for Loewenstein... she says she wasn't too disappointed the metal wasn't an alien spaceship.

"We were very excited to find something like that in the town of Boyds, where nothing ever happens," she said.

FMI: www.faa.gov

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