ORANGE ( — An American Airlines flight leaving John Wayne Airport Saturday morning had to make an emergency landing at LAX after birds struck the plane just after takeoff.

According to the FAA, the birds struck the 737’s engine on the Dallas-bound flight around 7:30 a.m.

Stacy Parry was a passenger on the flight. She said, “When it first struck we saw a flash of orange, which my friend said was fire coming out of the engine.”

Parry called CBS2 and KCAL9 Saturday evening from her final destination, Orlando. “We heard a loud bang. And then we heard another bang and then another bang, three pretty loud bangs and we could hear this grinding in the engine.”

The pilot turned the plane and headed to LAX. Passengers landed safely and were rerouted to Dallas.

Parry said passengers remained calm throughout the scary ordeal. And she admits personally that was no easy feat.  “I don’t travel that much but I don’t think that’s [loud bangs] supposed to happen and I don’t re member ever seeing balls of orange flashing out so not good.”

A spokesperson for John Wayne Airport told CBS2 and KCAL9 reporter Amanda Burden that the plane struck three birds damaging its number two engine.

Back in 2009, a similar bird strike forced Captain Sully Sullenberger to safely land his stricken plane on New York’s Hudson River.

Parry said she was glad her plane also landed without a hitch. “I was glad that we were able to get off the plane, no one was hurt, everyone was fine.”

John Wayne’s main commercial runway was shut for about half hour as crews cleaned up the bird debris.


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