Pan American World Airways Flight 843 had barely left the runway when the fire emergency alert in the cockpit began flashing red.
At 2:11 p.m. on June 28, 1965, pilot Charles H. Kimes initiated a mayday distress call, followed a few seconds later by a voice message to the control tower at San Francisco International Airport: "Clipper Jet 843. We got problems with power here."
Mary Jane Eaken of Berks County looked out the window of the Boeing 707 and had a bird's eye view of the "power problem" - an engine on the right wing was engulfed in flames.
It was an image that Life magazine would characterize as "A sight few have seen and lived to tell about."
Nearly 47 years later, the emotional wounds of the experience linger. They reopened recently when, paging through a scrapbook she's kept, the 77-year-old Eaken wept.
"My husband said to me, 'What are you crying about?' " said Eaken, a retired Penn Township businesswoman.
So vivid are her memories, Eaken still recalls feeling the heat of the burning engine inside the plane.
Eaken and her then-husband, Delmar Brandt, were among 22 members of the Berks County Lions Clubs attending a Lions convention in Los Angeles.
They were on a side trip to Hawaii when the plane carrying 143 passengers and a crew of 10 developed engine trouble 28 seconds after takeoff.
The story of what happened to that flight, which lasted only 23 minutes, would be told in Time, Newsweek and newspapers around the world.
Pilot Charles H. Kimes, 44, a member of Pan Am's Million Mile club, would tell passengers the plane was experiencing a minor problem.
Minutes later, he radioed the control tower in San Francisco: "I don't know whether I can keep it in the air or not."
Initially, Kimes headed for the Pacific Ocean, where he planned to jettison the aircraft.
"We were given life jackets and pillows," Eaken recalled, "and told to put our heads in our lap."
Kimes lost contact with the control tower in San Francisco but communicated through a Coast Guard rescue plane that came to the airliner's aid.
Though he was cleared to land at San Francisco, Kimes chose to land the 95-ton plane at Travis Air Force Base, about 45 miles northeast of San Francisco. The runways were longer and the area was less populated, the pilot reasoned.
A clipping of a United Press International dispatch in Eaken's scrapbook chronicles the plane's landing.
At 2:25 p.m., Kimes made his first approach to Travis, but the main landing gear refused to open. The crew cranked it down manually.
On his second approach, at 2:34 p.m., Kimes put the crippled plane down safely. Ten firetrucks sped to the crippled airplane as passengers slid down its emergency chute.
A banner headline in the San Francisco Examiner called it a "Miracle Jet Landing."
While shaken by the experience, no one was injured.
Eaken still marvels with her close encounter with fate.
"To think that we could have been goners," she said, paging through the scrapbook. "I guess God had something else in mind for us."
The Berks County Lions group comforted each other as they waited at Travis for a second Pan Am plane to take them to Hawaii. When the relief plane's nose gear failed on landing, six people decided to leave instead of going through with the trip.
But Eaken and most of the Berks Countians continued to Hawaii.
In an "Especially for Women" feature in the Sunday Reading Eagle, Eaken and Eleanor Krick of Womelsdorf are shown wearing grass skirts and doing the hula.
Seeing her 30-year-old self smiling from the tattered, browned clipping, Eaken chuckled and explained why she chose to board a third Pan Am plane when the previous two had problems.
"I had quite a bit of faith" she recalled. "And I thought to myself, 'God will take care of me somehow.' "