Obama's Plane Lands in St. Louis for Maintenance

July 7, 2008 - 8:33 PM

St. Louis (AP) - The airplane carrying Democrat Barack Obama made a safe, unscheduled and precautionary landing in St. Louis on Monday after a flight control problem arose en route from Chicago to Charlotte, N.C.

The plane, an MD-80 Midwest charter, experienced a problem maintaining the proper pitch, or control over keeping the nose at the proper angle, as it was taking off from Chicago, the pilot said.

Laura Brown, an FAA spokeswoman, said the plane did not declare an emergency, but simply "requested a diversion for mechanical issues they called a flight control problem."

As the plane was being evaluated on the ground here, Obama was reading the paper in the front of the plane, but ventured briefly to chat with the press at one point.

"I just thought we'd spice things up a little bit today," Obama said, smiling and joking.

About an hour after taking off from Chicago, reporters among the 44 passengers on board were made aware of the problem. A flight attendant, who was clearing the aisles, told reporters the plane wasn't heading to North Carolina as planned.