During the descent, Captain Cronin ordered Flight Engineer Thomas to tell the flight attendants to prepare for an emergency landing, but he was unable to contact them through the intercom. He asked the captain for permission to go down to find out what was happening, and he agreed. Thomas saw severe damage immediately upon leaving the cockpit; the aircraft skin was peeled off in some areas on the upper deck, revealing the frames and stringers. As he went down to the lower deck, the magnitude of the damage became apparent as he saw the large hole in the side of the cabin. He returned to the cockpit and reported that a large section of the fuselage was open aft of the Number 1 exit door. He concluded that it was probably a bomb, and that considering the damage, exceeding the plane's stall speed by more than a small margin would be unwise.