PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- A pistol discharged inside a bag in the baggage compartment of an Alaska Airlines plane that was still sitting on the ground and the bullet entered the passenger compartment. No one was injured.
The .357-caliber bullet went through the floor of the passenger cabin and lodged in a diaper bag underneath a seat Monday night on Flight 101, said Doug Roberts, spokesman for the Port of Portland.
Passenger Grant Johnston, who had placed the diaper bag under the seat, told KGW-TV that he heard a loud noise at his feet and notified a flight attendant.
"She went and checked with the pilot and came back and said it was probably just the cargo door closing, but a few minutes later they said somebody had a loaded gun in their suitcase and when the baggage handler threw it on board, it went off," said Johnston, of Anchorage, Alaska.
The Boeing 737 had been scheduled to take off from Portland International Airport on a flight to Anchorage, Roberts said.
The crew and 85 of the 86 passengers were transferred to another rplane.
One passenger, Betty Jean Smith, 66, of Eagle River, Alaska, was charged with reckless endangerment and concealing a weapon without a permit. She was released to relatives in Vancouver, Wash. The gun was one of two in her bag.
Regulations require that passengers declare guns when they have them in checked luggage, and that those guns be unloaded, Roberts said.
If the gun had fired during the flight at a high altitude and the bullet had made a large hole through a window, the aircraft would have had rapid decompression, said Alaska Airlines spokesman Bill MacKay. However, he said, if it had penetrated the plane's outer skin the hole would have been smaller without a threat of rapid decompression.