NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Passengers who were aboard a Delta jetliner heading to Los Angeles from New York had quite a scare when the plane was forced to make an emergency landing at John F. Kennedy Airport after striking a bird.

The plane had just taken off from JFK around 3 p.m. Thursday when birds were sucked into an engine. Passengers watched as the cabin began filling with smoke.

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WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reports

“All of a sudden the plane shook violently, shuttered, and then there was a low growl coming from the right side of the plane just like the sound of a subway train stopping short and it didn’t stop,” described passenger Matthew Kroll.

“Dude, that was the scariest thing I had ever done in my life,” said passenger Grant Cardone. “Hit the right engine, plane shook us. I thought we were coming down. Hearing them grind through the engine sounds like a Volkswagen Beetle going through there.”

Delta Air Lines spokesman Anthony Black said the pilot of Flight 1063 decided to turn the plane around and make an emergency landing as a precautionary measure.

The plane carrying 172 passengers and seven crew members landed safely, but there were moments Cardone said he wasn’t sure he’d make it.

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“I was literally calling my wife to say ‘this could be my last flight,'” he said. “I was that scared.”

Kroll credits the flight crew and the pilot with handling matters smoothly.

“The pilot came on the loudspeaker, told everyone what was going and everyone in the cabin remained pretty calm actually,” he said. “It was a very long five or six minutes back to the ground, but luckily he got us back pretty safely.”

In 2009, birds were sucked into both engines of U.S. Airways Flight 1549 out of LaGuardia. Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger safely landed the plane in the Hudson River.

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