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Monday, March 28, 2011

Kit Bond, Adam Wainwright were on plane that slid off runway Lambert St. Louis International Airport

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Bond, Wainwright were on plane that slid off runway

BY NANCY CAMBRIA
post-dispatch.com
 Monday, March 28, 2011
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ST. LOUIS • Cardinals star pitcher Adam Wainwright and former Missouri Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond are used to nail-biters in their careers, but the athlete and the politician probably never thought they'd be sharing a heart-stopper about 5:30 p.m. Saturday.
That's when the two, along with about 140 other passengers on a Delta Air Lines passenger jet, slid off the runway in a snowstorm while landing at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport.
"As Winston Churchill said, there's no greater thrill than being shot at and missed," said a relieved Bond Sunday from his home in Mexico, Mo.
No one was hurt in the incident, which occurred at the height of a spring storm that dumped several inches of snow on the St. Louis region.
Bond was on the plane solo after a trip to Atlanta to visit his first grandchild, Elizabeth Ivy Bond, born late last month.
Bond said the plane, en route to St. Louis from Atlanta, came out of low cloud cover close to the runway.
"It looked white all over, and that's where the fun started," he said.
When the plane hit the runway, Bond said, it veered sharply to the left. "I'd flown long enough to know that wasn't planned," he said.
Wainwright, who was headed back to St. Louis from the Cardinals' spring training base in Florida, said he too, knew right away that something was awry.
"I've taken enough flights to know that feeling when the plane lands and starts to slow down, whether it's the wind resistance or the brakes grabbing, and I knew that it was odd that we didn't feel that," he said. "There was no brake grab. There was no slowing down like you'd expect."
Bond said the pilot did a "masterful job" of maneuvering the plane while still at full power to make a sharp correction. The pilot was then able to steer the plane onto an adjacent runway and finally power down.
The plane ended up on part of the W-1W runway, a controversial $1.1 billion airport expansion project long marketed by Bond and other politicians as a key to economic expansion in St. Louis.
"That turned out to be a very fortunate thing, because I think we used a lot of W-1W," Bond said of the unanticipated runway landing.
Wainwright said the first announcement from the flight attendants after from the plane landed was: "Welcome to St. Louis."
"Everybody just started laughing," Wainwright said.
As the pilot taxied the plane to the terminal, Bond said, applause broke out.
Bond said he got his second, more pleasant thrill of the day, meeting Wainwright, as passengers waited for their bags. The right-hander was with his wife and two children. Wainwright is recovering from reconstructive surgery on his right elbow and is expected to sit out the upcoming Cardinal season.
Bond, who couldn't begin to estimate the number of times he has flown during his long political career - "guzzillions," by his count - shrugged off his high-profile presence on the plane.
But he was especially glad things turned out all right for the injured Redbird and his family. "I hope his arm heals," Bond said. "That's the important thing."
Wainwright had an appointment with the Cardinals' rehabilitation coordinator Sunday.
The Federal Aviation Administration is expected to release a report on the incident today.

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