An Orlando-bound US Airways jet hit severe turbulence climbing into the skies over the Philadelphia region on Sunday, injuring six people and forcing the pilot to abort the flight.
US Airways Flight 735, filled with 265 passengers and 10 crew, took off from Philadelphia International Airport around 4 p.m. on Sunday and had reached 17,000 feet when it hit the volatile air, airline spokesman Bill McGlashen told NBC10.com.
"It felt like we hit a speed bump in mid-air," said passenger Paul LaBruna. "Everyone around me was buckled and I could still see them get about 2 to 3 feet up in their seats while buckled."
The 28-year-old South Philadelphian, who was traveling to Orlando to take part in his sister's wedding at Walt Disney World, said one woman came fully out of her seat and slammed into the bulkhead above.
"A lady sitting a few rows from me near the window went so high her head cracked the plastic ceiling," LaBruna said. Further up he said a flight attendant standing in the aisle flew into the air -- hitting her head and feet on the ceiling.
"A minute or two after, the pilot came over [the PA system] and asked if there was a doctor on board. Eventually he just turned around," LaBruna said.
The pilot decided to abort the trip and return to Philadelphia International Airport where the plane landed normally, according to McGlashen, the airline spokesman.
In all, six people were hurt when the Airbus A330 was tossed violently -- four passengers and two flight attendants, the spokesman said. The fasten seat belt sign was illuminated at the time.
Three of the injured passengers and the two flight attendants were taken to local hospitals for treatment, according to McGlashen. He said the flight attendants had since been released.
LaBruna said he worked for Southwest Airlines in the past and has flown many times, but had never experienced such violent turbulence.
"It was pretty scary," he said.
Other passengers on the flight tweeted about the incident:
Nice flight until we hit Philly then turbulence so bad everyone clapped when we finally landed. I blame the Flyers.
— Mel (@jane_anon) May 4, 2014
My flight #US735 from Philadelphia to Orlando just landed back in Philly - two injured after sever turbulence
— Cleston Oliveira (@ClesTwits) May 4, 2014
McGlashen said most of the flight's passengers decided to continue on their trip to Orlando. The new flight took off from Philadelphia around 9 p.m. on Sunday and arrived in Florida at 11:15 p.m. without incident.