Passengers onboard United Airlines flight 328 are recalling the frightening moment when the Boeing 777 made an emergency landing at Denver International Airport after an engine failed and erupted in flames only moments after takeoff.
Husband-and-wife couple Kelly and Sonny Glidden, from Denver, told FOX 31 that they could see flames from their seats three rows behind the wing of the plane, and could physically feel the heat from the explosion.
"You could see a large flash. It was definitely flames and you could hear it, feel it, you could feel the heat from it. I knew immediately it was an engine. I told my husband, I said, ‘We blew an engine.’ We were about five minutes out from the airport," Kelly recalled. "[The crew] immediately let us know we were heading back to the airport. It was a bumpy ride, we didn’t know if it was from the turbulence or from the engine. I could see sparks but other than that you’re just holding hands and thinking of your family."
The United Airlines flight departing from Denver to Honolulu was traveling with 231 passengers and 10 crew members. Authorities said no one on board was hurt. Still, passengers say they were terrified the moment they heard the engine fail.
"I was sitting in the middle of the plane and there was a loud explosion," Mike Vena, who was traveling Saturday from Baltimore to Hawaii with his wife, told CBS Denver.
"The plane just started shuddering and it was that way for about a half an hour until the plane landed," he said.
Ed and Barbara Underwood, of Kailua, Hawaii, added that they were frightened and even sent a text message to their children, since they were unsure if they would survive the flight.
"I just said the plane engine blew, that I don’t know what’s going to happen and that we love them. That’s all you can say," Barbara told KHON2.
"It was really scary," she said, adding that the pilot calmly announced they were going to make a landing. "It was the longest 20 minutes coming back into Denver."
The flight landed back at the Denver International Airport at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.
The Federal Aviation Administration later confirmed the plane safely landed in Denver following "a right-engine failure after takeoff."
"There are reports of debris landing along the plane's flight path. The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board will investigate," the FAA said.