Flight Diverted to Yokota Base in Japan

Our flight was scheduled to land at Narita at 3:45 PM, which we now know that we were flying over the epicenter of the earthquake as it was happening. The pilot came on and said there was an Earthquake and we couldn't land at Narita as there were planes that had less fuel than we did and they had priority. We circled a couple times before the captain came on again and said our fuel was very low and we could not land at Narita so we had to land at the US Air force Base in Yokota. When we landed we say 8 planes waiting on the runway. We waited on the runway for 5 hours and watched some planes get refueled and left for other destinations. The captain came on again and said the Japanese Air Authority would not let us land anywhere and customs would not let us disembark and get hotels so we had to stay at the Airbase in a community center. We all boarded busses with our carry-on luggage/blankets/pillows. Once we arrived we just say in chairs until both planes fully unloaded and everyone was inside. As everyone got settled the base commander spoke to us as well as some other personnel with instructions that we would be fed soon and we could not leave the building. Every door was armed and guarded. After eating they handed out blankets and everyone started to lay out and go to sleep. People were calm and tired, but we were safe. Many of us had not contacted our families and people were desperately trying to get in touch with their loved ones. Nearly 600 people packed that room and everyone was behaving calm and collected. We all pulled together like a big family, sharing stories and laughter trying to make the best out of a bad situation. The following day we found out Narita was accepting air traffic and our planes would be leaving around 12pm. The entire place burst into cheers and applause. It was a great feeling, we knew we were closer to getting home. Everyone at the base, the 347th Airlift unit and the Red Cross was amazing. They deserve so much credit for their compassion and quick response.

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Rick Tomaselli says ... on Sunday, Mar 13 at 2:13 AM

Compelling story. But I'm not surprized the well-oil machine of our US Military performed so well. Glad you're all safe.

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