They are the words you never want to hear when your plane takes off. Emergency landing. What happened onboard a southwest airline flight after it hit a flock of birds. Abc's tai hernandez is here with... See More
They are the words you never want to hear when your plane takes off. Emergency landing. What happened onboard a southwest airline flight after it hit a flock of birds. Abc's tai hernandez is here with the story. Reporter: Good morning, dan. So many people are so nervous right after takeoff until they hear the pilot say they've reached a safe altitude and all is well. The passengers aboard this southwest flight never got that reassurance. It's the pilot's announcement any passenger would dread. Hey, tower. Southwest 4055. We actually hit a f of birds. We are going to have to do a return to the airport. Reporter: Moments after takeoff, the captain told passengers an emergency landing was in store. Several birds had been sucked into the engines and the baltimore-bound southwest plane would have to return to the manchester, new hampshire, airport it had just left. The captain said we just hit some birds. About eight of them. Reporter: Passenger mike said it stayed surprisingly calm in the cabin. The captain did a great job. They kept us well-informed. Reporter: Bird strikes can cause damage to engines. Famously witnessed in the so-called miracle on the hudson. The 2009 u.S. Airways flight forced to land in the hudson river, after a flock of geese disabled both engines. In that incident, everyone survived. Just like the 142 passengers aboard friday's southwest flight, which made a far less dramatic landing back at the airport. Bird strikes are all-too common. Last year, 10,000-plus bird strikes were reported in the u.S. But again, the pilot here credited with maintaining calm. He assured passengers he had complete control in the cockpit and told them they wouldn't feel anything different. The only reason for the emergency landing was to follow the federal rule that requires.
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.