Minutes after taking off from Honolulu in 1989, the cargo door flew off United Flight 811. Nine passengers ended up getting sucked out of the Boeing 747 to their deaths. Retired Flight Attendant Laura Brentlinger survived the disaster.
“I’m just happy I’m alive,” she said.
A wall inside her El Dorado County home is dedicated to that terrifying day. She recalls thinking a bomb went off and being forced to grab onto a staircase as her body flapped like a flag as the wind tore through a gaping hole in the plane at 23,000 feet.
“My feet were off the ground and was literally trying to be sucked out of the airplane,” she said.
Amid the terror, she was on duty and using hand signals to instruct passengers to put on their life vests and prepare for a crash. The plane landed without losing any more lives. Brentlinger is profiled in a documentary now posted on YouTube that aired on National Geographic.
Brentlinger’s heroism and bravery was later recognized by President George H.W. Bush, the head of The Department of Transportation and the Governor of Hawaii.
Brentlinger didn’t fly for four years, but returned to the skies up until her retirement. She now spends time in the country riding her horse.
“We have a lot of bears out there, mountain lions and fox.”
She bought a revolver to protect herself and her horse while out on the trails. She completed 16 hours of gun training and applied for a concealed weapons permit with the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office. The application states applicants will be notified of an approval or denial within ninety days. Ninety days passed and she’s heard nothing and no one could explain the holdup.
“I’m not applying for an assault weapon. I just want a small handgun to help defend me from critters when I ride my horse,” she said.
She says her contact with the Sheriff’s Office keeps telling her, the delay is with the California Department of Justice, but she says no one at D.O.J will explain why either.
“You just wonder what’s wrong. What are they finding? My life’s an open book. I have nothing to hide.”
Bill Sharff own STS Guns in Folsom. He says with so many people buying guns since the presidential election, perhaps it’s a backlog. He says someone should be able to tell her the reason for the delay.
“It’s intolerable, it’s not right,” he said.
We reached out to the Department of Justice which right away realized they did approve Laura way back in February. They claim they sent the approval over to the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office back then, but the Sheriff’s Office tells CBS13 it never received it. Once CBS13 got involved, they have now. She says the Sheriff’s Office told her she can pick up her permit to carry a concealed weapon this week.
The D.O.J. denies a backlog, although we’ve learned some counties take longer to finish a background check.
Pleased to finally get her permit, Brentlinger hopes she’ll never have to use her gun.