SFA students arrive safely in London after emergency jet landing

Firefighters work to extinguish an engine fire at the Atlanta airport. (Source: Mariana Arambura)
Firefighters work to extinguish an engine fire at the Atlanta airport. (Source: Mariana Arambura)

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Just one day after a deadly engine explosion on a southwest flight, four Stephen F. Austin State University students and their professor were on a Delta jet when one of its engines caught fire.

The flight from Atlanta to London had to turn around after takeoff when crews noticed the fire.

Tonight, the travelers are safe and sound in London, and they are preparing for a student teaching project.

The SFA students were super excited about their study abroad, but rest on the long flight was important. They were settled in, said Hailee Imic, an SFA student.

"We didn't know what actually happened," Imic said. "We both actually fell asleep."

A commotion interrupted the nap.

"They just told us there were some problems and we had to land back," said Mariana Arambura, an SFA student "We didn't realize there was fire until we opened up our windows and saw smoke coming out of the engine."

The Delta pilot turned the jet back to Atlanta for an emergency landing. The airline confirmed an engine problem. Firefighters put out the blaze. The women were feeling safe enough.

"I wasn't scared because I didn't realize how bad it was," Arambura said.

Then a nearby passenger brought up an unsettling engine explosion that happened just the day before.

"A man behind us started talking about the southwest incident and that started freaking me out," said Caroline Leslie, an SFA student.

Yeah, he kept asking us questions about it and asking us if that was making us more scared," Imic said. We "were on the plane quite a while after that."

Anna Eubank says a flight attendant provided them confidence.

"She was so sweet," Eubank said. "I think the reason why we weren't scared at all was because she was so calm."

Dr. Vicki Thomas couldn't be prouder of her students.

"They are all safe and the girls are really calm and mature," Thomas said. "They handled it with grace and dignity."

When asked if they'll be sharing their story with UK youngsters, the women answered in true elementary teacher form.

"No. Depends on the age," the group said. "We don't want to scare them."

Perhaps the safer lesson is sharing the "Axe 'em Lumberjacks" sign.

The SFA group will be in London for about three weeks. They're hopeful the flight home will be nothing but routine.

Copyright 2018 KTRE. All rights reserved.