A Maine Capitol Police officer recently had a very close call after a large metal plane part apparently fell from the sky and landed just feet from him.
The metal object, believed to have come from a trans-Atlantic jet passing overhead, landed with a loud bang outside the Maine State House in Augusta at around 12:30 p.m. on Friday, August 12.
The plane part landed a mere 6 to 8 feet away from Capitol Police Officer Craig Donahue, who was walking around outside the State House at the time.
Capitol Police Chief Matthew Clancy said police alerted the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which is currently investigating the incident.
According to a press release from the department, the metal object landed with a bang on a slab of granite lining a cobblestone walkway a few feet from a security screener and came close to hitting the State House building itself.
“It definitely shocked him,” the chief said of the Donahue. “He was walking back to the building and got quite a wakeup call.”
Fortunately, no one was hurt in the freak incident.
The FAA said the object appeared to be a 6- to 7-pound metal sleeve that fell from a wing flap of a large passenger jet. Airlines were notified following the event, and all planes traveling in the vicinity at the time landed safely.
However, not everyone was convinced the part came from a plane.
Paul Cote, who works with an aircraft part supplier in Twin City Aero Supply in Bangor, Maine, said he has never seen an aircraft part that looked so damaged.
“I’m having a hard time believing that it is even an aircraft part,” Cote said in an email to the Portland Press Herald. “Most aircraft parts are made of aluminum and do not look that worn out.”
Greg Jolda, an aviation program coordinator at the University of Maine in Augusta, told the news outlet that if a part that large fell from a plane, it would have done serious damage to the aircraft.
“I can’t immediately see anything that would indicate that was from an aircraft,” Jolda said. “It would have had to put a good hole in the airplane.”
Jolda added that if it had come from a plane, its fall likely would have caused more damage.
“If it came from an airplane, it would not come straight down; it would have had some horizontal velocity to it. It would have done some damage. If a plane were traveling at 80 knots (92 mph), that’s serious,” he explained.
State Police spokesperson Shannon Moss said there was no significant damage to the granite walkway lining the entrance to the State House where the object landed.
When the Maine Legislature is in session, the area where the part landed is normally quite busy. Clancy said it is routinely used for rallies, protests and press conferences.