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Part of United Express Jet falls to ground

Commuter jet landing-gear doorAliens. They're here! thought Hilary Loewenstein when she spotted a strange metal object just off the path where she was speed-walking with her two dogs. It looked like a scrap of a spaceship, she said. Maybe aliens had landed in Maryland, she joked to herself.

The 25-pound (11.3kg) hunk was about 3 feet (0.9m) by 3 feet (0.9m), with an 18-inch part sticking up that had thick black bristles. It did fall from the sky, landing in a popular park in Boyds. But it wasn't a remnant of a UFO. It was a piece sent flying from a commuter jet headed to Dulles International Airport. No one was hurt, and the plane landed safely.

"We were all very lucky," said Loewenstein, 39, who made the discovery Saturday. "It's so amazing that this piece of airplane didn't fall onto the zillions of houses right behind it."

Authorities said yesterday that the piece came from United Express Flight 7350, bound for Dulles from Hartford, Conn. The Canadair Regional Jet 700, carrying 64 passengers and four crew members, had apparently shed the small door that recedes when the wheels emerge before landing at Dulles about 11:42 a.m., airline officials said.

"The landing gear door is not necessary to land the plane, because it needs to retract," United Airlines spokeswoman Robin Urbanski said. "Customers on the flight were always safe."

Link & Image: Washington Post
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