Authorities Launch Investigation Into Boeing Southwest Flight That Nose-Dived Into Oklahoma Neighborhood, Terrifying Residents

By: Julia Mehalko | Published: Jun 21, 2024

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has launched an investigation after a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 dived dangerously close to an Oklahoma neighborhood, terrifying residents in the middle of the night.

This potentially dangerous situation occurred at 12:05 a.m. local time on Wednesday. So far, neither Southwest nor the FAA has revealed why this plane was flying so low to homes.

A Low-Altitude Warning

While flying over Oklahoma City’s suburbs, this Southwest plane dived incredibly low in the air, resulting in a low-altitude warning being triggered.

An aerial view of an Oklahoma suburban neighborhood.

Source: Tyler Fulk/Unsplash

This incident occurred while the flight was still about nine miles away from its airport destination. According to flight data, the jet swooped as low as 525 feet above ground level.


A Quick Air Traffic Control Intervention

Once this low-altitude warning was triggered, air traffic control quickly intervened to learn what was going on. Clearly, this Southwest jet shouldn’t have been anywhere close to 525 feet above ground.

A plane seen in the air by an air traffic control tower.

Source: Beckett P/Unsplash

As heard in captured audio during the event, an air traffic controller asked the pilots of the Southwest jet, “Southwest 4069, low altitude alert. You doing OK?”

Climbing Higher

One Southwest pilot responded, “Yeah, we’re going around, 4069.” Pilots were then instructed to climb higher to at least 3,000 feet, which it appears they did.

A view of a Southwest plane up in the air.

Source: Anita Denunzio/Unsplash

However, during the period when the plane dived lower in the sky, many residents in these suburban Oklahoma City homes were terrified that the jet was going to dive right into their homes.

An Immediate Investigation

Immediately after this incident was reported, the FAA revealed that they would open up an investigation into why this plane dropped so low in the sky.

A Southwest plane taking off from an airport tarmac.

Source: Miguel Ángel Sanz/Unsplash

So far, no reason has been given by any party about why this Southwest jet seemed to almost be diving into an Oklahoma neighborhood.

Residents Recount Terrifying Incident

Many residents located in this Oklahoma City suburb have come out to share footage of the low plane as seen on their Ring doorbell cameras.

A look up at a Southwest plane in the sky.

Source: Shep McAllister/Unsplash

Others revealed how the low plane jolted them awake in the middle of the night and caused them to go outside, as they couldn’t understand what was making this loud noise. Seeing the plane flying so close to their homes shocked them.


The Plane’s Lowest Point

According to resident Spencer Basoco, the Southwest jet reached its lowest point while over the high school.

A view of a Southwest Airlines plane wing while up in the air over Oklahoma City.

Source: Chris/Unsplash

Basoco said, “I was kind of like halfway in between sleep being awake, and I just hear this WHOOOSH and I thought at first, like a storm was blowing in… because it just sounded like a wall of wind. And I looked out the window where the sound was coming from… if you go a few blocks away is the high school. And I just see a plane.”


Southwest’s Comment

Southwest hasn’t yet revealed why their plane dropped so low in the sky on Wednesday. However, they have released a statement about this incident.

A close-up of a Southwest plane seen on an airport tarmac.

Source: Owen Lystrup/Unsplash

A spokesperson for the company said, “Southwest is following its robust safety management system and is in contact with the Federal Aviation Administration to understand and address any irregularities with the aircraft’s approach to the airport.”


Another Southwest Scare

This latest event is just the latest Southwest Airlines scare, as the company has had a few rather public incidents that could have been incredibly dangerous.

A look out of an airplane to see its wing and clouds over ocean.

Source: Jakob Owens/Unsplash

Recently, another Southwest jet also fell just 400 feet above the ocean during a flight near Hawaii back in April. This sudden drop — which was reportedly “like a rollercoaster” — led to the flight being aborted because of severe weather.


A Dutch Roll

Meanwhile, Southwest has also been in the news after one of its planes experienced a “Dutch roll” maneuver recently.

A look up at a Southwest plane seen underneath a blue sky.

Source: Gary Lopater/Unsplash

This event is also under investigation, especially after it left the jet substantially damaged. Dutch rolls are rare maneuvers that can become incredibly dangerous very quickly, as pilots can easily lose control during this uncommon incident.


A Difficult Year for Air Travel

Since the beginning of 2024, airliners have come under increasing scrutiny from both the FAA and the public, thanks to very public incidents that have left many worried about the safety of air travel.

The silhouette of a plane flying through dark storm clouds.

Source: Trinity Moss/Unsplash

This difficult year was kicked off in January when a part of an Alaska Airlines flight flew off while the plane was in the air, prompting remarkable footage of the event hitting major news and social media.


Turbulence Worries

While some of these plane incidents have stemmed from issues with the planes themselves, other events have occurred where incredibly severe turbulence has left passengers injured.

A plane seen flying through dark storm clouds.

Source: Preillumination SeTh/Unsplash

One particularly terrible flight even resulted in the death of a 73-year-old British man who died on a plane heading to Singapore from London.