Sheer Terror When Plane Part Explodes Into Flames Mid-Air

Passengers describe hearing a loud noise and seeing flames on Spirit Airlines flight 165.
1:55 | 10/16/13

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Transcript for Sheer Terror When Plane Part Explodes Into Flames Mid-Air
And now, we move on tonight, because we are lrning more about that spirit airlines flight from texas to atlanta, forced to turn back after passengers heard something so terrifying, many of them scrambled text messages to loved ones. Tonight, what they heard, what they saw and what authorities are saying really happened. Here's abc's steve osunsami. Reporter: It was an emergency in the sky, spirit airlines flight 361 from dallas to atlanta. Are you having any instrument difficulties? Yes. Reporter: Just a few minutes into the air on tuesday night, passengers felt and heard an explosion coming from the left engine. Some people were praying out loud, some people were praying quietly. Reporter: Casey rogers, in c 21, said he could see the fire burning right outside his window. Smoke was filling the cabin and they were gasping for air. When the engine actually blew and fireball went pass, the plane started shaking violently. Reporter: His business partner fred edwards is an experienced pilot, and was sitting across the aisle. They started texting their wives. I said, ashley, I love you and make sure the kids know that forever. Yeah, I sent that text thinking it was going to be my last. Reporter: With one engine gone, spirit airlines says their pilot was able to power up the other enough to get control of the engine, turn it back to dallas and land safely. But it was a wild ride. Just like this one on turkish airlines in january and another of british airways in may. Pilots know what to do, the airplanes and even the engines themselves are designed not to be a threat beyond coming apart, and these aircraft can fly beautifully on one engine. Tonight, federal investigators are calling up some of their people furloughed by the government shutdown to come down and determine whether the fire was even more serious. They think that broken pieces of the engine weren't contained inside the engine's shell, like they should have been, and experts say that could have -- that's never good. Steve osunsami, abc news, atlanta.

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