The Southwest Engine Explosion and Other Terrifying Airplane Horror Stories

Thousands of airplanes take off each day, and usually those flights run smoothly. But there are some instances when things go wrong. Read on to learn about some of the craziest airplane horror stories that might make you afraid of flying, including the Southwest engine explosion (page 10).

1. A Regional Express Airlines propeller fell off mid-flight

Front propeller of an airplane
The propeller fell off, but they were extremely lucky. | Yurich84/iStock/Getty Images

On the way to Sydney Airport, a propeller detached from the shaft of a Saab 340 aircraft. Fortunately, the plane, along with its 19 passengers, landed safely in Australia. However, since the incident, the Australian carrier chose to ground five other aircraft with the same propeller gear boxes and shafts. According to The Telegraph, the president of the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association said the passengers were extremely lucky that the propeller didn’t crash into the fuselage or tail of the plane.

Next: A passenger watched the engine catch fire. 

2. A plane’s engine caught fire

Airplane engine on fire
It was a terrifying sight. | WaffOzzy/iStock/Getty Images

In 2014, a Transaero flight leaving the Barcelona Airport caught on fire shortly after takeoff. One passenger noticed flames coming from the plane’s wing and caught the whole thing on video. The Boeing 767 was said to have started shaking directly after takeoff, and it was forced to make an emergency landing in Barcelona. “The flight crew were reported to have shut down the engine of the plane 30 seconds after the incident took place, and the plane spent over an hour in the air dumping fuel,” reported The Telegraph.

Next: The door was left open.  

3. Someone left the door open

The door was left open. | Roibu/Getty Images

Passengers on a Korean passenger jet reported nausea and ear pain during a flight in 2016. Both symptoms are indications of a slow loss of cabin pressure. As it turns out, one of the aircraft doors was left slightly open. Passengers took videos of the open door and intense air rushing through. There were no serious injuries or hospitalizations, but flight passengers were delayed for 15 hours.

Next: The propeller hit a passenger on the head. 

4. A propeller sliced through the cabin and hit a woman on the head

Blue and white airplane propeller
It’s a miracle she’s alive. | Radodn/iStock/Getty Images

On an Air Canada flight in 2014, Christina Kurylo was hit in the head by a plane propeller that broke off and sliced through the cabin. Additionally, in the midst of the emergency landing, the right landing gear collapsed, and the right undercarriage dragged along the tarmac causing sparks. Once the plane landed, the cabin began to fill with smoke. Kurylo was hospitalized and discharged after six hours, having been diagnosed with a concussion, sore neck, and bruises on her head and shoulders.

Next: A drone almost ran into a plane. 

5. A near drone miss

A Boy With A Quadcopter Drone
It came dangerously close to a plane. | Sean Gallup/Getty Images

In 2014, a drone almost hit a passenger aircraft just before it landed at Heathrow Airport. According to The Telegraph, “The model helicopter passed dangerously close to the Airbus A320, 700ft above the ground on July 22 this year.” This was the second almost-drone hit in Britain.

Next: The engine cover fell off mid-flight. 

6. An American Airlines engine cover fell off

The engine’s cover fell off. | Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

While 136 Phoenix passengers were on their way to San Francisco, the plane’s engine cover fell off. The plane was forced to head back to Phoenix just 20 minutes into the flight. With the emergency landing at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, nobody was injured. “Both American Airlines and the US Federal Aviation Administration are investigating the incident,” reports The Telegraph.

Next: A snake on the plane and a snake in the plane

7. Snakes on a plane

Black Racer snake
One pet snake ended up on the next flight. | Shackleford-Photography/iStock/Getty Images

On a Quantas flight, passengers watched from their windows as a poor snake clung to an aircraft wing as their plane took off. Fortunately for the passengers, the snake never made it inside the cabin like on this Alaskan flight. In 2017, a passenger was flying to Alaska with their pet snake. While the passenger exited, their snake did not. It was then left up to the next set of travelers to find and catch the snake. Luckily, the snake seemed most interested in his mid-fight nap than anything else.

Next: A bolt penetrated the plane’s exterior.

8. A bolt flew off the propeller and penetrated the plane

White plane with blue stripe and no other markings
A bolt from the propellers entered the plane. | Tomás Del Coro/Wikimedia Commons

“So about halfway through my flight I heard a loud POP, looked out my window at a bolt that flew off the prop and broke through the outer pane. People around me heard it and seemed nervous once they saw the source of the sound. I got up and went to the flight attendant and quietly told her what happened, she came over to see it then called the pilot. He said it will be fine until we land as the cabin’s pressurized. Once we landed and people stopped snapping pics, the pilot talked to me for a while. Said he’s never seen this happen in over 25 years of flying,” said a Reddit user.

Next: Shouldn’t pilots try to keep passengers calm?

9. ‘Say a prayer’

Portrait of a woman with a headache on an airplane
A terrifying experience no doubt. | kosmos111/iStock/Getty Images

The engine began to seize and one of the blades came off the turbine on an AirAsia that was headed to Kuala Lumpur. The Airbus A330 began to shake violently, like a “washing machine,” and passengers were told by the captain to “say a prayer.”

“It was literally like you were sitting on top of a washing machine. The whole thing was going. We could see the engine out the window which was really shaking on the wing,” said passenger Brenton Atkinson.

Next: The Southwest engine explosion  

10. The engine exploded, and the plane began to drop out of the sky

airplane flying
Southwest Flight 1380 plunged thousands of feet in one minute. | Ep_stock/iStock/Getty Images

On April 17, 2018, passengers on board Southwest Flight 1380 came face to face with a true flying nightmare. Twenty minutes into a perfectly routine flight, the plane’s left engine exploded, and a gust of shrapnel blew out a window. One passenger was partly sucked out of the hole headfirst into the sky. “Oxygen masks dropped down and the plane plunged thousands of feet in a minute,” says The New York Times.

Next: Another engine disintegrated. 

11. A plane’s engine fell apart

jet engine
Pieces tore themselves apart. | frankpeters/iStock/Getty Images

In 2015, an airplane in Chile was taking off as its engine began to fall apart. Panels from the left engine were torn loose just before the plane left the ground. Immediately, the Sky Airline made an emergency landing. Passengers had to exit the plane and get on a different one while the affected aircraft underwent repairs.

Next: Unimaginable turbulence

12. Turbulence so bad passengers were praying for their lives

Seat Rows inside an Airplane
Passengers were praying and screaming. | gabriellephotos/iStock/Getty Images

A few years ago, Dewi Rachmayani posted a video to Facebook of her flight to Jakarta. The video shows passengers holding tightly onto their seats and loved ones. You can hear people screaming and praying. Horrifyingly, the turbulence wasn’t explained, but The Telegraph reports one flight attendant saying, “I have been a flight attendant for 15 years, this is the first time I’ve experienced something like this.”

Next: Fuel was spraying out of one of the wings. 

13. Fuel was gushing out of the wing

Airplane wing in sky & clouds
Thankfully, they didn’t make it into the air. | WeatherlyHammond/iStock/Getty Images

A United Airlines flight was set to take off for Venice when passengers noticed fuel pouring out of one of the wings. Thankfully, someone alerted a crew member and the plane wasn’t allowed to take off.

“Clearer video of the #united #gasleak. How not one crew member saw this is beyond me. Thank god we were lookin out the window at take off,” tweeted passenger Rachel.

Next: An almost two-jet collision

14. 2 jets almost collided on the runway

White plane with red stripe and no other markings
Two planes almost crashed into each other. | Eddie Maloney/Wikimedia Commons

In July 2014, two passenger jets nearly crashed into one another at the Barcelona airport. A Boeing 767 from UTair was coming in for landing when an Aerolineas Argentineas Airbus A340 started to taxi across the runway, right in the path of the Boeing 767. The UTair pilot had to quickly take the plane back up into the air, narrowly missing a crash. The pilot then circled around in the air until it was clear to come down.

Next: Another case of bad turbulence 

15. Severe turbulence

airplane with passengers on seats waiting to take off
People required medical attention. | AwaylGl/iStock/Getty Images

In 2014, an American Airlines jet that was heading out from Seoul, South Korea, was forced to make an emergency landing at Narita International Airport in Tokyo due to “severe turbulence.” The turbulence was so bad, 14 people requested medical attention. According to the airline, four passengers and one crew member needed to be hospitalized.

Next: The walls cracked open.  

16. The cabin walls cracked open mid-flight

Interior of airplane with empty seats
The walls cracked open. | Bychykhin_Olexandr/iStock/Getty Images

In 2014, an American Airlines flight to Dallas needed to make an emergency landing because the cabin’s wall panels cracked open. The pilot decided to turn around an hour into the flight in case of a blown air duct. Despite the crack in the wall, the cabin didn’t lose pressure and the oxygen masks weren’t deployed. Nobody was hurt or reported needing medical assistance.

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