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There were some rather tense moments in the sky Tuesday evening during a flight from Charleston, South Carolina to Dallas/Ft. Worth. Those tense moments were caused after a part of the wing just fell off during mid-flight at 36,000 feet. The American Airlines flight was diverted to Birmingham where it landed without incident and all passengers disembarked safely.

Flight 3729 bound to D/FW encountered some moderate to severe turbulence and that turbulence caused part of the wing to fall off mid-flight. The part of the wing that fell off is called a winglet. It is the outermost part of the wing at the very end of the wing on the plane.

As the plane approached Birmingham, pictures were taken of the plane and it clearly showed that a winglet was missing. Upon landing a spokesperson in Birmingham stated there was some kind of 'possible mechanical issue', but did not elaborate. American Airlines later released a statement, obtained by Live 5 News, confirming that the plane did suffer damage to one of the plane's wings.

What is a winglet and what does it do?

The winglet is a vertical extension of the wingtip that improves fuel efficiency and cruising range of the airliner according to NASA's website. It also reduces drag on the tips of the wing. The plane is fully capable of flying without the winglets attached. The Smithsonian says, "without them, the plane will have to deal with more vortex drag and will not be able to fly as easily, but it will still be able to fly."


As with any aviation incident, the FAA will be investigating this incident and find out what lead to the incident and how to prevent it from happening again.

My only question is, where did the winglet end up?

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