A Jersey City artist recounted the stomach-churning moment she thought she was “going to die” aboard a United Airlines flight that plummeted nearly 30,000 feet in just 10 minutes earlier this week.
Tato Lovere, 47, said she had been aboard United Airlines Flight 510 from Newark to Rome with her boyfriend when the plane suddenly began to nosedive, throwing herself and other passengers into sheer panic.
“You saw people’s heads turning, you had people looking at each other, you had people looking for answers without screaming,” she told The Post.
“You literally thought you’re going to die,” she later added.
Shortly after the Italy-bound Boeing 777 took off at 9:20 p.m, the artist, who was traveling to celebrate her birthday and meet gallerists in Rome, said that the captain and stewardesses began to come on the intercom system repeatedly, alerting passengers about potential issues with the aircraft.
Around 10:07 p.m., Lovere recalled a “sick feeling” gripping her body as the plane tilted forward, before dropping 28,000 feet over the course of 10 minutes, according to the flight tracker FlightAware.
“I tried the best I could first to text message my daughter without causing fear, of letting her know I love her very much and I am proud of her,” she said, later recalling how the stewardess speaking to passenger amid the chaos sounded as if “she was crying or had been crying or felt helpless.”
Lovere said that amid her own in-flight horror show, her daughter had been tracking the plane online, fretting as her mother inexplicably spun in circles in the air over Halifax.
“She was on the phone with United asking them about why she saw her mother’s flight [was] going in circles over Halifax,” she said. “United told her everything [was] fine.”
The plane’s captain eventually came on and announced that the plane might need to make an emergency landing in Halifax, before revealing the aircraft had begun to dump fuel and was being rerouted back to Newark Liberty International Airport, landing just before 12:30 a.m.
In a video shared with The Post by Lovere back at the airport gate, a United captain claimed over a loudspeaker at the attendance desk that there had been a “6 or 8 inch hole on the side of the airplane, so that’s what caused our pressurization issue.”
A United Airlines spokesperson said the plane returned to Newark Liberty International Airport “to address a possible loss of cabin pressure.”
“The flight landed safely and there was never any loss of cabin pressure,” the spokesperson said.
Lovere and her boyfriend were rebooked for the next United plane out to Rome hours later, but the experience has shattered any sense of safety aboard future flights.
“I’m definitely going to be on edge” on planes, she said.
“I probably will be checking every window now. Every crack walking by.”