Jan 9 (Reuters) - A United Airlines flight that took off from the Sacramento, California, airport was forced to turn back to the runway after it struck birds that became lodged in one of its engines and sparked flames, an airport spokeswoman said.
United flight 1596 from Sacramento to Denver had 129 passengers on board and six crew members, the airline said in a statement.
No one on board was injured but one person was taken to a hospital for an unspecified medical reason, said Sacramento International Airport spokeswoman Lori Slothower.
Birds became lodged in one of the plane's engines, causing damage, but when the flight landed back at Sacramento airport the engine was functioning, Slothower said.
Passengers reported seeing flames coming from the engine after the bird strike, she said.
Eileen Javora, a meteorologist on Sacramento-area television station KCRA, said on her Facebook page that she was a passenger. "Felt jolts. Saw flames. Smelled smoke. So scary," she wrote in a post with a photo of herself on the plane.
United confirmed that pilots of the Boeing 737, which the airline says took off at 5:53 a.m. local time on Friday, reported a bird strike. The plane was back on the ground at 6:20 a.m. and passengers were accommodated on alternate flights, the airline said. (Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Bill Trott)