Traci Mailloux of Belfast hated flying even before she started to smell an acrid, burning smell during her flight from Orlando to Bangor on Wednesday.

Mailloux was one of 157 aboard the Allegiant MD-83 when it made an emergency landing in Rhode Island.

“It smelled like jet fuel, engine fuel. I said ‘Whoa, that’s really strong.’ It kind of went away a little while into the flight,” Mailloux said. “Then we got this really strong, electrical burning smell, all through the cabin almost. I started to panic. No one said anything.”

Mailloux, who had spent the week with her boyfriend visiting his mother in Florida, said the stewardesses said nothing while the passengers looked at one another anxiously. Then the plane seemed to be dropping and rocking. She took out her iPhone and checked the compass to make sure they were still headed north.

“Then they did say we are going to be doing an emergency landing, fasten your seat belts. That’s all they said but we knew something was up. It was getting warmer in the cabin. It was almost like the cooling (system) had stopped.”

The jet landed at T.F. Green Airport in Warwick, coming to rest away from the terminal and surrounded by fire trucks.


Allegiant Flight 736 landed at 4:30 p.m. after the flight crew declared an emergency, according to a statement from the Federal Aviation Administration. The crew reported heat in the rear of the aircraft, the statement said, without providing any other details.

The FAA is investigating.

The local NBC affiliate reported no one aboard was hurt.

The Orlando Sentinel reported Wednesday that two other Allegiant flights from Orlando – one headed to Ohio and the other to Wisconsin – were diverted in the past week, one for an engine problem and the other a de-icing issue. The paper said the Bangor-bound flight, carrying 151 passengers and six crew, was the third emergency landing in a week.

The MD-83, a twin-engine, medium-range jet that seats 130 to 172 passengers, was manufactured by McDonnell Douglas in the 1980s and 1990s.

Messages left with the Allegiant corporate media office and T.F. Green Airport were not returned.


Flight 726 left Orlando at 2:17 p.m. and was scheduled to land in Bangor at 5:08 p.m.

Initial reports were that passengers would be bused from Warwick to Bangor, a four-hour, 40-minute drive. But later they were told that not enough buses and drivers could be located. Passengers were to be put up in hotels and then catch a flight at 11 a.m. Thursday.

Mailloux was anxious. After being gone a week, she had promised the kitchen crew at her diner a break and she was scheduled to open at 6 a.m. Thursday.

“All the people working in the kitchen are exhausted. Then this happened,” she said. “I have got to get home. You just can’t close down.”

Paul Partyka, a Floridian who works in commercial real estate, was headed with his wife to Camden for their annual New Year’s vacation. He didn’t smell anything, perhaps because he was near the front of the plane, and was surprised and puzzled by the emergency announcement.

“The main thing is we didn’t know what was going on and we still don’t,” he said. “That was the most irritating, frustrating part about everything.” Allegiant doesn’t typically fly into the Warwick airport so their were no airline staff to keep them informed, he said.


Partyka grabbed a rental car soon after they landed and offered Mailloux and her boyfriend a ride. It turns out Partyka is a big fan of biscuits and gravy, a specialty at Traci’s Diner.

An appreciative Mailloux picked up the tab at McDonald’s and paid the tolls.

“They can have breakfast for life at the diner,” she said.

At 9 p.m. the group let out a cheer as they crossed the border into Maine – just two and half hours to go.


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