A mechanical failure sent a JetBlue plane careening wildly through the skies, sparking panic among the 155 people aboard the Las Vegas to New York flight.
Passengers said the plane lurched from side to side after its hydraulic system failed during "four hours of hell" on Sunday and described hearing a mechanical screeching shortly after takeoff.
Tom Mizer, one passenger, said, "People were getting sick. Some people were throwing up. There were a lot of people getting nauseous."
He said one member of the crew walked down the aisle trying to keep passengers calm.
"[She said] Look at me -- I'm smiling. If I was scared, you would know it. If I'm not scared, you don't need to be."
One of the pilots declared an emergency and radioed Las Vegas controllers that they were dealing with "quite a few things, but the initial thing is... we've lost two hydraulic systems."
The plane was loaded with five hours' worth of fuel. Because the A320 is incapable of dumping excess fuel, the pilots circled the area south of the Vegas Strip until it burned enough to allow the crippled plane to land safely.
Travis McGhie added, "The plane kind of felt out of control. It wasn't able to balance itself, and the air was choppy."
The side-to-side weaving was likely a sign that the pilots had lost lateral control, said Dave Esser, a professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida.
An Airbus manual describes a double hydraulic failure as "improbable in operation."
Esser said an Airbus has enough backup systems that the passengers were not in serious danger. "Even if everything failed, there would have been a way to manually land the aircraft," he said.
The runway was closed for about 30 minutes until the aircraft was towed off the runway.
A replacement Airbus took got the passengers to New York eight hours late.
JetBlue confirmed the incident. The FAA is investigating.