Scare diverts Phila. commuter flight|
A commuter airline flight that originated at Philadelphia International Airport was diverted to a regional airport in Tennessee yesterday after the discovery of a "threatening note" aboard the plane, a federal transportation spokesman said. Laurie Uselding, a spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration, said US Airways Flight 3441 landed at Tri-Cities Regional Airport in Blountville, Tenn., shortly after 1 p.m. local time without incident. The note was discovered at 11:44 a.m. Authorities would not say where on the plane the note was found. The contents of the note were not released. Morgan Durrant, spokesman for US Airways, said the plane was bound for Houston with 56 passengers and four crew members. As soon as the plane landed, he said, passengers were evacuated and interviewed by the FBI, which is heading the investigation. The Embraer plane can hold 72 passengers. A passenger found the note and alerted the crew, said Warren Wilkinson, a vice president with Republic Airways of Indianapolis, which operates the express flight through its Republic Airlines. "The crew contacted the cockpit," Wilkinson said. "The cockpit notified the company, and we chose to land at the closest acceptable airport." Local law enforcement officers and bomb-sniffing dogs inspected the plane and its luggage. Federal authorities released the plane, which took the passengers on to Houston, a spokesman for US Airways said.