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By Marianne Schwab | Best Travel Deals Tips Blog

Southwest Airline Emergency Landing
in Yuma, Arizona

As Tweeted on Twitter by @BluestMuse

This was an April Fool’s Day to remember for passengers and crew on board Southwest Flight #812 from Phoenix to Sacramento on April 1, 2011. I first discovered that a Southwest Airlines flight had to make an emergency landing at a Yuma, Arizona, military base due to a 3-foot hole in the Boeing 737's fuselage from CNN.com. The plane landed safely but what I found more fascinating was the story that unfolded on Twitter from one of the passengers on board the injured plane, Shawna Malvini Redden (@BluestMuse).

I stumbled upon this tweeter with a small following through a series of other people I follow. It originated with David Kaa @TheManWife (who is a hilarious follow) and one of his tweets led me to @BluestMuse in about “three degrees of separation.” Her Twitter profile simply states, “Cactus Land.”

Social media is something that gets news out in a way that traditional news media can only dream about but now the media pros themselves have come to lean on Twitter for their coverage of breaking news. News producers had instant access inside the plane without sending their own ENG (Electronic News Gathering) crew. The CNN.com report used a photo from a passenger when they posted their story although it did not appear to be one of Shawna’s.

Shawna tweeted with twitpics her birds eye view of what happened on the flight to several news media reporters at CNN and Sacramento television stations KOVR-TV (CBS) & KTXL-TV (Fox).

What I love about this story and Shawna’s tweets is that what could have been a terrible in-flight tragedy is a story that has a happy ending with a safe landing. Thank God for His grace and mercy today for the souls aboard Flight #812.

Here’s the report and drama as it unfolded on Shawna Malvini Redden’s @BluestMuse twitter feed April 1, 2011:

@BluestMuse: High of 99 in Phoenix today. How I wish that was an April Fool's joke.#melting #cactusland
8:30am PT

@BluestMuse: Why do people tell me to have a safe flight as if I'm the pilot? "Sure, I'll do my best not to crash the plane from my seat on row 7." [Note: A prophetic tweet?]
2:30pm PT

@BluestMuse: @SouthwestAir Emergency landing in Yuma. SW pilots are amazing!
5:30pm PT

@BluestMuse: Loss of cabin pressure, hands down the Scariest experience of my life.
5:30pm PT

@BluestMuse: Yikes! (Twitpic - photo Left)
5:30pm PT

Shawna tweeted Kathy Paez, the FOX40 News Assignment Editor at KTXL-TV in Sacramento:

@BluestMuse: @KTXL_Kathy Terrifying but happy to be alive. Explosion sound, then a rush of air... masks dropped and a woman screamed. Everyone else was calm. Pilot landed safely. Excellent crew!
5:30pm PT

KTXL-TV's website mentioned @BluestMuse in their report.

Shawna then responded to this tweet from @Countupir:

@countupir: @BluestMuse Do they have a cause for the emergency? Electrical? Mechanical? Would hate 2 find out they are going to justify Libya frm this

@BluestMuse: @countupir Mechanical. Hole ripped in the skin of the plane!

("Sky!" Photo by Shawna Malvini Redden.)

@BluestMuse: Sky! (Twitpic - Above)
6:30pm PT

Shawnna started tweeting her story to KOVR-TV CBS-13 Sacramento:

@BluestMuse: @CBS13rightnow Happy to be alive. Still feel sick.6 foot hole in the skin of the plane five rows behind me. Unbelievable.
6:30pm PT

@BluestMuse: @CBS13rightnow Texted my husband ' I love you ' from the sky.
6:30pm PT

@BluestMuse: @CBS13rightnow People are in good spirits. Police are investigating now.
6:30pm PT

@BluestMuse: @CBS13rightnow Held my seat mate's hand and tried not to cry. super loud! Flight crew was excellent. Stayed calm and checked on everyone.
6:30pm PT

@BluestMuse: @CBS13rightnow One flight attendant was injured and a couple passengers passed out but nothing major.
6:30pm PT

Check out KOVR-TV's coverage using Shawna's photos and her Twitter story with another passenger, Greg Hanson, on the phone.

("Masks." Photo by Shawna Malvini Redden.)

@BluestMuse: Masks. (Twitpic - Above)
6:30pm PT

Shawna finally tweeted Cristy Lenz, Director of Coverage, at CNN.

@BluestMuse: @clenzcnn Feel free to use photos and tweets. My phone is about to die. Can talk later.
6:30pm PT

("Our awesome pilot." Photo by Shawna Malvini Redden.)

@BluestMuse: Our awesome pilot. (Twitpic - Above)
6:30pm PT

("Landing in Yuma." Photo by Shawna Malvini Redden.)

@BluestMuse: Landing in Yuma. (Twitpic - Above)
6:30pm PT

("View from my seat." Photo by Shawna Malvini Redden.)

@BluestMuse: View from my seat. (Twitpic - Above)
6:30pm PT

("More masks." Photo by Shawna Malvini Redden.)

@BluestMuse: More Masks. (Twitpic - Above)
6:30pm PT

That's where the tweets end as Shawna's mobile phone was out of battery juice. Then four hours later...

@BluestMuse: In Sacramento finally! Thank you for all of the kind wishes.
10:30pm PT

I'm sure the story will continue if you go to Shawna Twitter profile page. [Follow-Up Note: When I started writing this blog post, Shawna had a little over 150 followers. Twelve hours later, the number increased to over 590 followers and growing plus there were well over 100 Twitter mentions of @BluestMuse in the four hour period immediately after the story broke. Shawna has been blogging about her story starting with some humor, "I Prefer My Plane without a Sun Roof, Thanks, a blog of gratitude, "Southwest Flight 812: Restoring My Faith in Humanity and Making Sense of 15 Minutes of Fame.]

I want to thank Twitter and Shawna for this story. I hope you have found it as fascinating as I have. And what has this blog post taught us? Next time you find yourself caught in the middle of a travel story, snap your photos and tweet a way!

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About Marianne Schwab
TV Travel Show Producer

For over twenty years, TV Travel Show Producer, Marianne Schwab, has been collecting money saving travel tips as a travel producer for high profile television programs. She has flown all over the world and produced live television productions on location from Caesar's Palace on the Vegas Strip to the beautiful island of Oahu. Read more