Saturday, October 30, 2004
RALEIGH, N.C. - John Edwards' campaign plane had been in the air maybe 15 minutes Friday night when, back in the traveling press section, there was a loud bang, a flash of fire and cough-inducing smoke.
"Fire!" somebody yelled, and a line of Secret Service agents rushed to the seat where it had all happened.
The cause of all the commotion: A 9-volt lithium battery had exploded as an ABC-TV sound man was tending to his audio mixer.
No one was hurt. But the pilot of the charter plan did make an unscheduled return to Raleigh, N.C., where Edwards - the Democratic vice presidential candidate and North Carolina's senior senator - had voted and spoke to a homecoming rally earlier Friday.
Firefighters from the Raleigh-Durham International Airport came on board to investigate. The seat was removed. Then, the plane took off again, headed for Williamtown, W. Va., the site of what turned out to be a post-midnight rally.
It was the second time in less than a month that there were problems on board Edwards' campaign plane. On Oct. 15, the pilot aborted takeoff on the runway because a light on the aircraft indicated a failed generator.
Prior to the battery explosion on Edwards' plane Friday night, the loudest sound heard in the traveling press section came Thursday, when reporters covering Edwards found out that their counterparts covering Vice President Dick Cheney would be flying to Hawaii for a GOP rally.
"We're covering the WRONG campaign!" shouted one TV network staffer.
- Tim Funk, Charlotte Observer
posted by Ellen Dunkel at 8:14 PM
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