Thunderstorms strafed the Midwest with 100 MPH winds yesterday, hurling a DC9 jetliner into the air at a Waterloo, Iowa, airport, destroying scores of planes and causing damage estimated at up to $25 million.
Funnel clouds skipped over Idaho and powerful storms rolled from the Ohio Valley to the mid-Atlantic seaboard.
Waterloo municipal airport looked like the target of an air raid. Runways were littered with debris and wrecked planes, piles of rubble stood where hangers had been, and the control tower was without a roof.
Officials reported up to 80 aircraft -- including eight National Guard helicopter -- damaged or destroyed and said damage could reach $25 million. No was injured.
"One plane is blown right across the runway and is sitting out there on its ear," an airport spokesman said. "An Ozark mechanic who was sitting in another plane says the winds just lifted it up in the air -- flying without turning on the motor."
Mechanic Charles Lowjowsky was alone aboard the DC9 when the twin-engine jet made the unscheduled takeoff.
"All of a sudden the front end went up," he said. "All I could do was ride that baby until it came down. It was bad up there for a minute or so."