Delta Air Lines Flight 1063 passenger Grant Cardone was recording video Thursday afternoon moments before a bird strike forced the Los Angeles-bound Boeing 757 to make an emergency landing in New York.
In the video (embedded, above), the birds are seen for only an instant. Cardone said he "choked" and stopped recording in an effort to send a final goodbye to his wife.
"I went to grab my phone to see if I had reception because I was literally calling my wife to say, '...this might be my last flight.' I was that scared," said Cardone in another video posted online.
"Hearing them grind through the engine sounds like a Volkswagen Beetle going through there," said Cardone, a business analyst who's previously appeared on NBC4 News as a guest.
"It hit the right engine," he said. "The plane shook. I swore I thought we were coming down."
The birds forced the plane, which was carrying 172 passengers and seven crew members, to turn around and land back at John F. Kennedy Airport as a precaution, Delta spokesman Anthony Black said.
Delta is currently working on getting the passengers to Los Angeles as quickly as possible, according to the airline.
"We are proud of our flight crew and the professionalism and training that was on display during this non-routine event," Black said in a statement to NBC4 News.