A Dallas-bound American Airlines plane carrying 139 passengers taking off from San Jose International Airport hit a bird early Friday morning and had to make an emergency landing.
There were no injuries, including among the five crew members aboard, according to airport spokeswoman Rosemary Barnes.
But Michael Whitley, who lives in Dallas, told NBC Bay Area that he wrote a goodbye message on his palm to his children, because he thought he was going to die.
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"You never know," Whitley said.
He said it was "pretty tense" on board for a while and credited the pilot for "doing a great job" in landing the plane safely.
"I heard a loud bang," he said, "And the whole plane kind of shook. It was shuddering pretty good. Everyone's blood pressure was going through the roof."
Flight 1118 took off from San Jose at 6:20 a.m. and struck a bird at 6:42 a.m., Barnes said.
Airline spokesman Matt Miller said maintenance crews are checking out the engine to see if the bird strike did any damage.
At 7:45 a.m., passengers, such as Patrick Lawler, were in the baggage claim area, hoping to get on different flights to the Dallas area.
"They haven't told us anything," Lawler said. "I never really liked to fly anyway."
For the first 10 months of the year, San Jose Airport officials say they "hazed,” or dispersed, more than 5,000 birds. They do that by playing loud music near the runways where the bird gather.