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Southwest plane hits bird, returns safely to RDU

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RALEIGH, N.C. — A Southwest 737 was forced to make an emergency landing at RDU after striking a bird on take-off Monday evening, WTVD reports.

RDU officials say Southwest Flight 220 was heading to Chicago’s Midway Airport when it struck a bird as it was departing around 6:15 p.m.

Passengers told WTVD that they had just settled in for the flight when it happened.

“Well, it was kind of a brutal take off,” said passenger George Shackleton. “We all of the sudden heard a big boom and just rattling and vibration after that.”

“It was making a weird noise on the left engine side and then it smelled really weird and then it started shooting out flames,” said passenger Shelley Chan.

Chan said everyone went into panic mode, even one of the flight attendants.

“The flight attendant, she just seemed a little frantic, and I think it freaked out the other passengers,” said Chan.

Shelly Tranchita says that’s when the pilot announced they had hit a bird and would make an emergency landing. Crews quickly doled out detailed instruction to each passenger.

“We all had jobs so A, B and C, and I was in the B seat. My job was to help people off the plane if we were to do an emergency evacuation,” said Tranchita.

Tranchita remembers circling at about 10,000 feet for roughly 30 minutes. In the last moments, the flight crew chanted “Head down, Stay down,” right before a smooth landing, and an uproar of relief.

No one was injured.

Read more: WTVD