With a screaming whistle, a six-foot section of the landing gear cover dropped from a TWA Boeing 747 jumbo jet and crashed into the yard of a South Compton Avenue construction company Saturday, frightening workers and damaging a fence but causing no injuries.
The plane, carrying 180 passengers and a crew of 15, was approaching Los Angeles International Airport on a direct flight from London's Heathrow Airport about 3 p.m. when the part dropped off.
TWA spokesman Don Morrison said in a telephone interview that the plane "landed routinely." Morrison said he did not know whether the pilot even was aware of the missing part.
"It scared the hell out of me," said Rodney Hampton, supervisor at the B&G Construction Co., where the white aluminium six-foot-by-eight-foot section landed. "I heard a whistling noise and just a bang and then something like a pipe being banged against cement--just a loud noise."
Bernard Burks, general supervisor at the firm, said he was standing on a balcony when the door section screeched past "like a whirlwind" and hit the fence. "It was shaped like the moon in the first quarter, the new moon," said Burks. He estimated damage to the fence at $500 to $600.
A TWA worker retrieved the piece and another six-foot section of pipe that landed nearby, said Burks. The construction company is about nine miles east of the airport.
Morrison said he did not have immediate access to the plane's age and maintenance history and was unable to say immediately what might have caused the part to fall off.