"Well, my heart started beating a little faster, so yeah, I guess I was excited."
Bob the Teacher
Last week, Alaska Airlines passengers had their flight from Portland, Oregon to Ontario, California abruptly interrupted when a "door plug" got sucked out of the Boeing 737 MAX 9's fuselage, creating a massive surge of air.
Fortunately, the passengers and six crew members made it back to the ground largely unscathed.
As regulators pore over the data to decide on what action to take — 171 of the Boeing commercial airliners have already been grounded — a local schoolteacher named Bob Sauer has come across an extraordinary item in his backyard: the door plug that came loose at 16,000 feet.
His first call was to the National Transportation Safety Board to report his unusual findings.
"I'm excited to announce that we found the door plug," NTSB chair Jennifer Homendy said in a statement. "Thank you Bob."
"Bob is a school teacher in Portland, so thank you very much Bob, bless you," she added.
It Belongs in a Museum
The plug, meant to seal an opening, is used by some airlines as an additional door in certain high-capacity layouts. In the case of the Alaska Airlines flight, the opening was "plugged" since the door wasn't needed.
The door plug isn't the only artifact recovered following the terrifying incident. An iPhone that miraculously survived after being sucked out of the plane and plunging down to the ground was spotted outside by game designer Sean Bates.
The device, which was still fully functional, was unlocked and even had a screen showing an open email about a baggage receipt.
In short, regulators have plenty of evidence to go by. And things are already looking pretty ugly for Boeing and its contractors.
Alaska Airlines announced earlier this week that it had found "some loose hardware" visible on some other MAX 9 aircraft following initial inspections, hinting at the possibility of future incidents.
United also found "bolts that needed additional tightening," according to a statement.
"The [Federal Aviation Administration's] first priority is keeping the flying public safe," the regulator said in a statement. "We have grounded the affected airplanes, and they will remain grounded until the FAA is satisfied that they are safe."
As for Sauer, he was taken aback after spotting the door plug behind his house.
"Well, my heart started beating a little faster, so yeah, I guess I was excited," he told ABC News.
More on the flight: Experts Alarmed After Large Piece Blows Off Boeing 737 Mid-Flight
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