Friday, January 09, 2015

'Everybody yelled fire' • Bird strike forces plane to land at Sacramento International Airport (KSMF), California

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KCRA) —A bird strike has forced a plane headed from Sacramento to Denver to make an emergency landing at Sacramento International Airport on Friday morning.

Fire officials said a possible bird strike caused issues on United Airlines Flight 1596 that was about seven miles out from Sacramento International Airport.

Watch report: Eileen Javora describes emergency landing: 'Everybody yelled fire'

The United flight left Terminal A at 5:44 a.m. and safely landed back at the airport at about 6:20 a.m.

KCRA meteorologist Eileen Javora was on the plane and said she heard a couple of sudden booms and then smelled smoke.

"I was on the side that saw the glow and the booming of the engine being on fire," Javora said. "The plane never lost altitude and never dipped. The plane never jerked."

Javora said once people realized what happened, passengers started saying they were seeing flames out the side and that's when she saw a flight attendant running down the aisle with a fire extinguisher.

Passenger were told that the situation was being assessed and that the pilots were very busy, but that the emergency was likely a bird strike, Javora said.

She said the plane continued to climb and didn't make any sharp turns. It kept circling for about 20 minutes until it headed back to Sacramento International Airport.

The pilot eventually came over the intercom and was very calm. He told the passengers they hit some birds and it looks like everything is going to be just fine, Javora said.

Javora said once they landed, she could see firefighters outside the plane with flashlights looking at the engine.

Fire officials said it wasn't just one bird strike, but multiple strikes. They could see remnants of the birds along the fuselage and in the engine as officials inspected the plane.

None of the people on board were hurt. However, many people KCRA 3 spoke with were shaken up by the series of events.

"The lights were going on and off," one passenger said. "I was just thinking this could be it, this could be it. And my daughter's not ready to lose me yet."

The passengers had to stand in line to re-book a new flight to their destination.

No information about the extent of damage to the plane has been released.

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