iPhone from Alaska Airlines flight found intact after 16,000-foot drop

hand holding iPhone found on roadside from Alaska Airlines flight
Sean Bates | Twitter/X

On Friday night, an Alaska Airlines flight bound for Ontario, California landed back at Portland International Airport in Oregon just 20 minutes after take off. In those eventful 20 minutes, a chunk of the plane’s body — or fuselage, in aviation parlance — came loose and was ripped off while flying at 16,000 feet, leaving the aircraft wide open to the skies.

Incredibly, all 177 people on board were unharmed. But during the fracas, small items — and one shirt — were sucked out of the plane via the gaping hole, including a cell phone found on an Oregon roadside.

Twitter/X user Sean Bates discovered the iPhone on the side of the road at took to the platform to share his find, noting it apparently wasn’t even the first phone found from the ordeal:

The phone was “perfectly in tact [sic],” wrote Bates, was still in Airplane Mode and even had 50% of its battery life left. The one imperfection was the ripped charging cord dongle still stuck in the phone’s charging port.

The intact phone was a fun find but the most sought-out relic from the ordeal was the missing piece of fuselage, which Portland, Oregon science teacher Bob Sauer found in his backyard Sunday night. The National Transportation Security Board (NTSB) took it from there, sharing photos of the missing piece — a door plug — on Twitter/X:

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ordered all U.S. airlines to stop using some Boeing 737 Max 9 planes until the mid-cabin door plugs can be inspected. The order impacts about 171 planes in U.S. fleets, including 65 owned by Alaska Airlines.

MORE: Off-duty pilot helps fly Southwest plane after pilot has medical emergency

Twitter/X user Jon Ostrower took to the platform with the question we’re all probably thinking: Who makes the phone case?

No case manufacturers have come forward to take credit yet, but we’ll update you if they do (and upgrade our phone cases!).

MORE: Improve your iPhone’s battery life with this simple setting

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About the Author
Taylor Kuether
Taylor Kuether is an award-winning journalist with more than 12 years’ experience writing and editing content, designing and implementing digital strategy, leading teams and executing production. She's written for The Washington Post, National Geographic, The Huffington Post, The Los Angeles Times and more.

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