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Sue Tribble, a Yokota Red Cross volunteer hands boxes of food to stranded passengers Friday after their flight was diverted to the base to land.
Sue Tribble, a Yokota Red Cross volunteer hands boxes of food to stranded passengers Friday after their flight was diverted to the base to land. ()
Sue Tribble, a Yokota Red Cross volunteer hands boxes of food to stranded passengers Friday after their flight was diverted to the base to land.
Sue Tribble, a Yokota Red Cross volunteer hands boxes of food to stranded passengers Friday after their flight was diverted to the base to land. ()
Stranded Delta passengers enjoy a boxed meal Friday at the Taiyo community center when their flight was diverted to the base to land after the earthquake in Japan shut down Narita International Airport.
Stranded Delta passengers enjoy a boxed meal Friday at the Taiyo community center when their flight was diverted to the base to land after the earthquake in Japan shut down Narita International Airport. (Grant Okubo/Stars and Stripes)
Col. Paul ''Otto'' Feather, commander of the 374th Airlift Wing at Yokota Air Base, Japan, addresses stranded Delta passengers  at the Taiyo Community Center after their flight was diverted Friday from Narita International Airport to the base.
Col. Paul ''Otto'' Feather, commander of the 374th Airlift Wing at Yokota Air Base, Japan, addresses stranded Delta passengers at the Taiyo Community Center after their flight was diverted Friday from Narita International Airport to the base. (Grant Okubo/Stars and Stripes)
Stranded passengers spend their night at the Taiyo community center after their flight was diverted from Narita International Airport to the base Friday.
Stranded passengers spend their night at the Taiyo community center after their flight was diverted from Narita International Airport to the base Friday. (Grant Okubo/Stars and Stripes)
Lynne Crowe, a Yokota volunteer, directs passengers at the Taiyo Community Center on Friday night after their flight was diverted to the base.
Lynne Crowe, a Yokota volunteer, directs passengers at the Taiyo Community Center on Friday night after their flight was diverted to the base. (Grant Okubo/Stars and Stripes)
Judah Hatcher, a Yokota Red Cross volunteer, hands a young girl a bottle of water Friday after her flight was diverted to the base to land.
Judah Hatcher, a Yokota Red Cross volunteer, hands a young girl a bottle of water Friday after her flight was diverted to the base to land. (Grant Okubo/Stars and Stripes)
Stranded passengers spend their night at the Taiyo community center after their flight was diverted from Narita International Airport to the base Friday.
Stranded passengers spend their night at the Taiyo community center after their flight was diverted from Narita International Airport to the base Friday. (Grant Okubo/Stars and Stripes)

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Busloads of weary travelers made their way to the base community center after the massive earthquake in Japan forced 11 commercial aircraft to land here Friday afternoon, after being diverted from the country’s biggest airport.

Two planes and their 537 passengers could not fly out of Yokota and had to stay on base overnight.

After flying in circles for a half-hour, Phil Gross, a passenger on board Delta 295 flying out of Seattle and destined for China knew something was wrong.

“The passengers started watching the screen tracking the plane going in circles and everybody wondered what was going on,” Gross said.

“Things flash through your mind,” Gross said. “Is there a crack in the runway?” Gross wondered about the condition of the buildings below and wondered if they were still standing. “You just didn’t know.”

Although there wasn’t much news at first, Gross said things were pretty calm up in the air.

“There wasn’t any panic,” Gross said, noting that everyone accepted at a certain point that they wouldn’t be making their connecting flight to Shanghai.

“Our pilot really kept people apprised well,” said Gross “It would have been total confusion without that.”

okubog@pstripes.osd.mil

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