DENVER — Saturday afternoon, a United Airlines flight with more than 200 people on board was forced to make an emergency landing when its engine exploded shortly after takeoff.
United Airlines confirmed flight 328 from Denver to Honolulu experienced an engine failure shortly after departing the airport and said it was able to land safely a short while later.
Debris from the plane landed in several neighborhoods in Broomfield, a suburb north of Denver. According to local police reports, no injuries have been reported.
Kelly and Sonny Glidden, a central Indiana couple, were on board when the in-flight emergency occurred.
“I could see a large flash. You could tell it was flames. You could hear it, feel it. You could feel the heat from it,” recalled Kelly. “But then my feet were warm, and you started wondering what else is going on.”
Kelly said she was sitting in a window seat just three rows behind the wing of the plane.
“I knew immediately it was an engine,” she said. “I told my husband, ‘We just blew an engine.’ He said, ‘We’ll be okay.'”
Kelly said a flight attendant was in the middle of making an announcement when it happened.
“We were all completely quiet. There was no panic. Everybody was calm, and then they kept us up to date about what was happening,” said Kelly. “There was silence initially from the pilots because they had to do their job. Once they knew what the plan was, they immediately let us know they were heading back to Denver Airport.”
She said it was a bumpy ride but is unsure whether that was due to the turbulence or the engine failure.
“I could see sparks, but you know, other than that you’re just holding hands, thinking of your family, who you’re gonna talk to,” said Kelly.
Kelly said the final four minutes until they landed felt like four hours. “As soon as we landed, all of the text messages went out. We’re in Denver, we’re safe.
“We knew the news was shortly to follow, and everybody knew where we were headed, so we wanted to make sure that we checked in with our loved ones and they knew we were safe.
“I’ll be honest, there were some cheers initially, and then we looked at each other and said we’re not safe yet. We wanted to make sure there were no flames, no fire. We wanted to make sure it was under control.”
She said they wanted to especially thank the crew members for their preparedness and training that ensured a safe landing for all on board.
“We knew that there had to be a plan. You don’t just run off the airplane. You have to assess what the best plan is.
“An event like this really makes you think about what’s important in life,” said Kelly.
This is the Gliddens’ first trip to Hawaii. On Saturday, they sent CBS4 a selfie as they were boarding the flight they had re-booked.
“We definitely want to thank the crew, the pilot for getting us back safe, and we feel very fortunate that we could tell this story.”
The Federal Aviation Administration released a statement on Twitter Saturday addressing the incident. In it, the FAA said it will investigate the incident along with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
The United Airlines Master Executive Council also issued a statement Saturday night, saying it commends the crew of UA328 for safely returning to Denver after experiencing a “significant uncontained engine failure.”