777 makes emergency landing
Unlikely stop made for ill airline passenger

by Jennifer Pritchett
Northern News Services

NNSL (Apr 16/97) - A Seattle woman is back home after the Boeing 777 she was travelling on made an emergency landing in Yellowknife Friday so the woman could get medical attention.

Upon landing, firemedics rushed the 47-year-old American woman to Stanton Regional Hospital, where she was treated in emergency and released over the weekend, said Carol Anderson, director of patient care.

Anderson said that the woman suffers from Addison's disease, a rare disorder that affects the adrenal gland. During the flight, she experienced problems, obviously serious enough to reroute the flight.

Pilots of the brand new Boeing 777 United Airlines flight, bound for San Francisco from London, decided to land here when the woman became ill.

The airline notified NWT Air dispatch around 2 p.m. Friday to let them know they would be making an emergency landing in Canada's northernmost city.

Tom Cook, airport manager, said that the 777 is now the largest aircraft ever to land in Yellowknife.

"This isn't the first emergency landing that was made at our airport, but it's certainly the first aircraft of this size that has," he said.

The 777, slightly larger than a 747, made a smooth landing around 3:30 p.m. Friday before the patient was lifted down from the jet with the use of a scissor lift.

A Yellowknife fire department ladder was also on site in case the scissor lift wasn't high enough to reach the massive aircraft.

There was some concern that some of the passengers and baggage would have to be removed in order for the jet to take off on Yellowknife's relatively short runway, said fire chief Mick Beauchamp.

This didn't happen though. The plane took off around 4:30 p.m. on Friday with minimal disruptions to Yellowknife airport.

"Some shifting of air traffic on the ramp had to be made to accommodate the size of the aircraft, said Cook.

Tracy St. Denis, NWT Air's manager of sales, development and corporate communications, said that the plane made a smooth landing and take-off.

"My understanding is that the turnaround was very quick getting it up and off to its destination," she said.