Florida-bound flight reportedly drops over 15,000 feet in 3 minutes: 'It was terrifying'

A Florida-bound flight dropped over 15,000 feet in the span of about three minutes, according to flight records. 

American Airlines Flight 5916 was on its way from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Gainesville when the crew reported a possible pressurization issue, a spokesperson from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) told FOX 35 News. The plane landed safely at the Gainesville Regional Airport shortly before 5 p.m.

A passenger on the plane, University of Florida professor Harrison Hove, shared photos on social media of the "terrifying" flight that include the released oxygen masks and people around him putting them on. 

"I've flown a lot. This was scary," Hove said. "Kudos to our amazing flight crew-cabin staff and pilots on American Air 5916. The photos cannot capture the burning smell, loud bang or ear pops."

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Photo: Harrison Hove

In the span of 11 minutes, the flight dropped nearly 20,000 feet, according to data from FlightAware. The descent started 39 minutes into the what-turned-out-to-be 2-hour, 8-minute flight. 

The biggest drop happened about 42 minutes in and lasted six minutes – the flight descended 18,600 feet, flight records show. 

"Something failed midflight and depressurized the cabin," Hove wrote on Twitter. "The burning smell can apparently be attributed to using the oxygen canisters. The wing flaps came out to immediately lower our altitude so there would be more oxygen. It was terrifying but turned out ok."

Hove also praised flight crew and pilots who were "cool under pressure," he said, adding they kept the passengers "informed and calm."

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FOX 35 News has reached out to American Airlines for comment.