A Delta flight from New York's JFK airport managed to fly into San Juan, Puerto Rico, pull into the gate, and less than an hour later take off full of passengers - all while Hurricane Irma was bearing down on the island today.
A radar image from flight-tracking website Flightradar24 displayed the plane flying along a narrow path on the outer edge of Irma's 185-mph winds on September 6.
Before the flight even took off, the internet was wondering just what would happen, with Facebook user Wladimir Castro posting a video of the flight as it was leaving Puerto Rico.
The Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, which features a 1,000-foot-wide (305 meters) radio dish, is closed for safety reasons until further notice, telescope representatives said via Twitter on Tuesday (Sept. 5). Several other flights turned around after observing that the storm started to move over the airport. How was the approach to San Juan?
Thankfully, the tale had a happy ending and Rabinowitz's last tweet was a lighthearted one: "Guess the flight crew serves lunch now.?"
Still living with the damages from Hurricane Sandy, New Yorkers know those preparing for Irma need help now. Though Hurricane Irma pounded the island with strong winds and heavy rains, it was a glancing blow; the storm's eye, around which the fastest winds of a hurricane swirl, passed north of Puerto Rico.
According to Rabinowitz, the flight spent just 52 minutes on the ground before taking off for NY, flying between the outer band of Hurricane Irma and the storm's core.
He added that a number of flights had attempted to "squeak" into San Juan before air traffic control ceased operations, but only Flight 431 was able to make it in time. "And our flight and ground crews were incredible in their effort to turn the aircraft quickly and safely so the flight could depart well before the hurricane threat".
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