Spirit Airlines officials say "a possible mechanical issue" is what forced Flight 165 to turn around in Texas shortly after takeoff Tuesday, but passengers described a much more terrifying experience involving fire and smoke.
Spirit Flight 165 took off from Dallas Fort Worth International Airport before 2 p.m. Tuesday and headed toward Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Georgia. But just a few minutes after takeoff the plane was forced to turn around and make an emergency landing back at DFW.
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"It was a normal landing and customers safely deplaned. We had another plane taking customers to Atlanta," Misty Pinson, a spokesperson for Spirit Airlines, told CBS Dallas.
"One engine was shut down which is normal procedure and this plane can operate on one engine."
But passenger Casey Rogers had a much more traumatic story.
"I saw the engine blow up on the outside of the plane, fire and all that," Rogers told CBS News.
"I'm thinking to myself, I see this on the movies. I'm usually on my couch eating popcorn. This never happened to me. And here I am 25,000 feet above the ground and this is happening to me."
Rogers even sent his wife Ashlee a flurry of panicked text messages from the air.
"...I love you make sure my kids know that forever. We have a problem I [sic] the plane it's full of smoke [sic] the engine has stop and te [sic] whole plane is shaking ... I love you don't forget it!! Pray for me."
As the plane made a safe emergency landing, Rogers texted his wife, "We are down we are ok…"
ABC News later retrieved video footage from onboard the plane.
Spirit officials later confirmed that there had been smoke in the cabin.
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