A Delta Air Lines Boeing 747 diverted to the Pacific Ocean’s remote Midway Atoll last week. That came after a “sudden and very serious windscreen crack … appeared before the pilots while it was flying between Honolulu and Osaka,” reports Ben Sandilands in his Plane Talking blog.
After the windshield cracked, the Delta crew opted to divert to the 7,900-foot runway at Henderson Field on Midway’s Sand Island. The Aviation Herald, which focuses on airline safety-related incidents, notes the aircraft then “hit two birds while on approach to Henderson Airfield causing damage to a flap (but) continued for a safe landing about one hour after the windshield cracked.”
The flight — Delta Flight 277 — was en route from Honolulu to Osaka, Japan, at the time of the incident. It landed at Midway around 5:40 p.m. local time, according to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
“We don’t usually land planes during the daylight hours when we have nesting albatross on the ground because of bird strike hazards,” Sue Schulmeister of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says to Hawaii’s KITV-TV. “But we didn’t have a choice in this case because they needed to land because of their cracked windshield.”
“The pilots were — needless to say — thrilled that Midway was here that they could land this aircraft,” Schulmeister adds to Hawaii’s KHON 2 TV.
The Fish and Wildlife Service administers the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge.
HawaiiNewsNow.com says passengers on Flight 277 were “kept … on board until a second 747 arrived from Japan to deliver parts and mechanics, and fly the passengers … to Japan. Passengers changed planes in the middle of the night and left for Osaka about 5 a.m., just before light and the albatross and other birds on the Refuge began to fly.”
As its name suggests, the Midway Atoll’s remote location is about halfway between North America and Asia.