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.

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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.

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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.