CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Ginger Heath and her husband were returning home Thursday from a business trip in Austin, Texas, when she says their plane started to shake violently.
The plane had just taken off from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, and hadn't been in the air more than 10 minutes.
Heath, who lives in Monroe, said she looked out the window, then heard a "huge explosion" coming from the other side of the plane.
She looked across the aisle and saw sparks, then a fireball. Smoke soon started coming in the plane.
A flight attendant came on the speaker to say the crew was aware of the problem. The captain said shortly after that it appeared the right engine had been lost, said Heath.
The crew decided to turn the plane around.
On Friday, Delta Airlines said the flight crew was alerted to problems with the engine after an indicator light came on in the cockpit.
A Delta spokesman said Flight 1442 was climbing after takeoff around 9 p.m. when an indicator light came on to alert the crew of a problem with the right-side engine. The captain decided to shut the engine down and return the flight to Atlanta, said spokesman Anthony Black.
Black confirmed that some smoke entered the cabin after the incident and that the sound the passengers heard likely came from the damage to the engine.
Black said the airline is investigating. He said the engine would have to be dismantled to identify the exact cause, a process that can take several days to weeks.
Black said there were 141 passengers and 5 crew members aboard the flight.
Heath said that after the initial explosion, the plane continued to shake occasionally. She said many passengers on board were calling or texting family members to tell them what was happening. Others were praying.
Heath said her husband asked if she was OK. She said yes.
"I firmly believed we were going to be fine," Heath said. "And we were, thank goodness."
The flight landed without incident in Atlanta around 9:30 p.m. and the passengers were moved to another plane.
The plane finally arrived in Charlotte around 1 a.m. Friday. Heath said the passengers were so relieved, they broke into applause again.
On Friday, Heath said she was a little sore after having tightened her muscles during the flight. "We must just have all been a big knot of nerves," she said.
She said she's not afraid to fly again, and credited the flight crew and others at the airport for remaining professional and taking care of the passengers.
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