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By Chip Jones, Richmond Times-Dispatch, Va. Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Jan. 12--Morriss W. Johnson sat back to relax on the American Airlines jet leaving Richmond for Dallas, happy to be going home for Christmas.
Everything seemed normal as the MD-80 aircraft was preparing for takeoff at Richmond International Airport when "all of a sudden he hit the brakes," Johnson, a local architect, recalled this week.
"The tires squealed and the brakes were squalling. We came to a pretty abrupt stop. We lunged forward just slightly."
Johnson was one of 129 passengers aboard American Airlines Flight 1239, which quickly gained national attention. After the pilot hit the brakes, he did something else that surprised Johnson and other eyewitnesses the morning of Dec. 23:
He missed a turn on the runway and steered the plane into the mud.
The jet got stuck at 8:28 a.m. at the intersection of Richmond's two main runways, …