The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating an incident at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport in which a chartered Midwest Airlines airplane carrying Senator Barack Obama made an uneventful precautionary landing due to a suspected flight control anomaly.
At about 9:30 a.m. CDT this morning, a McDonnell Douglas MD- 81 airplane (N804ME), operated by Midwest Airlines as Flight 8663, diverted to St. Louis, Missouri, during a flight from Chicago, Illinois to Charlotte, North Carolina. There were no injuries to the 48 passengers and crew.
NTSB Chairman Mark V. Rosenker has designated Todd Fox as the Investigator-in-Charge for this incident. Fox is expected to arrive on scene this afternoon.
Post-flight inspection of the airplane revealed an in-flight deployment of the aft emergency exit slide within the tail cone.
Preliminary information indicate that the crew disconnected the autopilot during climbout from Chicago, while being vectored around thunderstorms, when they reportedly felt elevator control forces that were heavier than normal. They therefore elected to make a precautionary landing at St. Louis. After landing, it was learned that the aft emergency exit slide had deployed within the tail cone. The tail cone did not separate from the airplane.