It was a chilling experience for passengers of the A321 jet as they watched it descend for an emergency landing in a field outside Moscow after a troublesome take off. They are now lauding the pilots for saving their lives.
The plane with 233 people on board appears to have struck a flock of gulls as it accelerated on the runway as it left Zhukovsky Airport, south-east of Moscow.
“As the plane was taking off, it was clear that something was wrong with the engines. It took a very long time to gain speed,” a passenger, a man in his 20s, told RT.
“We started falling, we had that distinctive sound when the plane tried to restart the engines but they couldn’t do it,” a young woman added.
Also on rt.com Video shows MOMENT when birds hit Ural Airlines jet on take-off
The pilots, 41-year-old Captain Damir Yusupov and his 23-year-old First Officer Georgy Murzin, didn’t have time to return to the airport as they were flying quite low above ground level.
In fact, they had only few seconds left to quickly find an open space below them and prepare to make a bumpy but fortunate belly landing. As the protocol prescribes, the engines were shut down but the landing gear wasn’t deployed.
“We saw the field approaching, everyone grouped as I tried to protect my kids,” another woman recalled. “But the captain did well, he landed the plane and everyone applauded him when he exited [the cockpit].”
“I think we are all alive thanks to him,” she suggested.