A PenAir flight made an emergency landing in Sand Point on Tuesday, following an engine failure shortly after takeoff.
The Saab 340 aircraft returned to the airport safely, but passenger Nate Julian said it was a scary experience.
“It was kind of sketchy," he said. "A little bit hairy there for a minute.”
Headed to Anchorage, Julian said everything seemed normal until the plane reached the end of the runway.
“They went to ramp up the engines for takeoff," he said. "The left engine cut out a minute and then ramped up. Not a normal sound.”
Once the plane was airborne, Julian said the strange sounds grew louder.
“It sounded like backfiring," he said. "Like a car backfiring over and over again. I looked out the window, and there was some fire shooting out the back. The engine kind of wound down and died there pretty quick.”
That’s when the flight crew decided to make an emergency landing, according to PenAir spokesperson Missy Roberts.
“Our crew did exactly what they needed to do," she said. "They immediately declared an emergency [with the Federal Aviation Administration], which is what you want everybody to do in a safety situation. They turned it around and landed safely without incident, so I think everything went well.”
The cause of the engine failure is still unknown. Roberts said PenAir is sending two mechanics to evaluate the plane on Wednesday.
“They’ll do a full inspection and determine if it’s worthy to ferry back so it can be looked at further at our maintenance facility,” she said.
In the meantime, Roberts said there will be no interruption to PenAir’s flight service. The airline is adding an extra flight on Wednesday to accommodate Sand Point passengers affected by the engine failure.