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'Saw The Black Smoke': Flight Instructor Describes United 777 Engine Bursting Into Flames From The Air

BROOMFIELD, Colo. (CBS4)- While some witnessed United Airlines flight 328's engine explode from the ground, one pilot CBS4 talked with saw it as she was about to land at the Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport.

united flight 328 denver broomfield
(credit: CBS)

"The aircraft was flying westbound, and it was just slightly north of the airport we were over landing on a runway 12L," Madison Siegrist said.

Siegrist was in the middle of helping a student land a Cessna.

"We noticed the aircraft flying really, really low and we heard the noise and saw the black smoke that came from the engine," she said.

They watched as the Boeing 777 turned back to DIA with its engine on fire; for the large plane, landing in Broomfield was not an option.

"Because of its weight, the power of its engines, it's going to need a longer runway to land," she explained.

It took a while for Siegrist to get over the initial shock of what she saw. Siegrist has grown up around aircrafts all her life, and she has never encountered anything like this. Her dad is a commercial airline pilot. She's currently an instructor at McAir Aviation and training to be a pilot just like her dad.

Debris In Broomfield From United Plane
Residents inspect damage from debris fallen from a United Airlines airplane's engine in the neighborhood of Broomfield, outside Denver, Colorado, on February 20, 2021. - A United Airlines flight suffered a fiery engine failure February 20, shortly after taking off from Denver on its way to Hawaii, dropping massive debris on a residential area before a safe emergency landing, officials said. "Flight UA328 from Denver to Honolulu experienced an engine failure shortly after departure, returned safely to Denver and was met by emergency crews as a precaution," United said on Twitter. "There are no reported injuries onboard," it added. (Photo by Chet Strange / AFP) (Photo by CHET STRANGE/AFP via Getty Images)

"So that aircraft can fly and climb basically do everything that it's meant to on one engine," she told CBS4.

That is, as long as the engine debris doesn't severely damage the other parts of the plane.

"Things like this can happen, but it's very, very rare that it does," Siegrist said.

united flight 328 denver broomfield
(credit: CBS)

And if they do, Siegrist assures, pilots are trained to handle exactly this kind of emergency. When CBS4 asked her if this experience made her nervous, she told us, she trusts herself, her training, as well as the long-established standards required for commercial airline pilots.

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