Allegiant Airlines passenger Celine Neumiller and her family were on their way to vacation in Florida, from Chicago, when their plane had to make an emergency landing at the Chicago-Rockford International Airport (RFD).
Her daughter, 12-year-old Hannah Neumiller spoke with us about the experience.
“It was really freaky and scary at the same time,” said Neumiller. “My heart was racing and I didn’t know what to do.”
Allegiant Airlines flight 1671 took off a little after 5pm Thursday evening, but a couple minutes later, it had to make an emergency landing.
Shortly after takeoff, the engine ran into some trouble.
“The plane landed, luckily, without incident, but theres a lot of damage to the engine and it appears it was from a bird strike,” said Deputy Rockford Fire Chief, Brian Kunce. “So, a lot of the fins on the inside of the engine are damaged.”
Although there were no injuries reported to the approximately 180 passengers and six crew members that were onboard, some were clearly shaken.
“I’ve always been nervous about plane flight,” said passenger Paul Rothenbach. “I’ve always been nervous about putting my life in a device I have no control over and the last thing that I thought would happen, happened.”
Passengers applauded the crew after the flight landed safely.
Another passenger, Debra Marshall, who is a flight attendant for another airline, says it’s important that passengers pay attention to the flight crew: “[It’s] very, very important, because you never know when it might happen to you,” she says.
Investigators aren’t sure whether the engine actually caught fire, although video shot by a passenger shows the turbine throwing out sparks.
Allegiant Air sent another rescue plane to transport the plane’s passengers to Punta Gorda.