Delta Passenger Recounts Bird Strike on LAX-Bound Flight
Birds flying by moments before the strike (Courtesy: Business Expert Grant Cardone, Twitter: @GrantCardone)
Delta Flight 1063's pilot reported an engine problem shortly after the Los Angeles-bound plane took off from JFK around 3 p.m., FAA spokesman Jim Peters said.
"Flight 1063 was on take-off when the aircraft encountered a bird strike" in its right engine, said Anthony Black, a Delta spokesman.
"As a precaution, the captain returned to JFK," Black said.
There were no injuries reported among the 172 passengers and seven crew members.
They were able to get on a different plane several hours later.
It wasn't immediately clear how many birds or what kind of birds were involved.
Passenger Grant Cardone shot video of several birds flying by his window moments before the strike.
Cardone appeared on the KTLA Morning News on Friday and recounted the terrifying ordeal.
He said he "just had this crazy intuition" to record video of the takeoff on his iPad.
"It's only 16 seconds long, and you literally see the birds passing my screen," Cardone said.
"You hear them literally getting engulfed into the right engine of the 757... and then it sounded like a Smart Car being consumed through that engine, which lasted about another 3 or 4 seconds."
Cardone said the plane then started lurching, going up about 100 feet and then down about 100 feet.
"I'm like, 'Oh my gosh... We're 900 feet, 1000 feet above sea level, is this thing gonna crash?'" he recalled.
Cardone said that, at that point, he stopped recording and sent a text message to his wife.
"I said, 'Baby, I love you. I'm on 1063. It's in trouble. I love you and the kids,'" he said.
"I literally think this is the last flight I'm on. I think it's gonna crash."
The captain then came on over the P.A. system and announced that they needed to turn around.
"I knew it wasn't terrorism," Cardone said. "You knew something had physically happened on the exterior of the plane."
He said the "second stage of fear" kicked in when the passengers started to smell something burning.
Cardone described it as the "smell of barbecue chicken back in Louisiana where the guy put too much lighter fluid on it."
The plane eventually landed safely at JFK.
"Training is so important," Cardone said, praising the Delta flight crew.
"Those Delta pilots just show you that training and preparation at those moments... Those guys were unbelievable."
Bird strikes are relatively common and do not always damage jet engines, although large birds or flocks of birds can seriously harm planes and engines.
Most famously, in 2009, a flock of geese damaged both engines on US Airways flight 1549, forcing the crew to land the plane in New York's Hudson River.
All 155 people on the plane survived.