Escape from Hurricane Irma: Delta Airlines pilot pulls off dramatic NY-Puerto Rico roundtrip
Flight DL431 departed New York's JFK airport at 8:39am local time, right as Irma was beginning to eclipse Puerto Rico on flight and satellite radar imagery.
One American Airlines flight and Two Jet Blue planes had already decided to play it safe and turn around rather than fly straight into the Category Five monster that was lashing the Caribbean with winds of up to 185 mph.
While wind speeds at San Juan airport had yet to reach those speeds, the landing would still be tricky and the situation could have deteriorated in a heartbeat.
The running commentary by online planespotters made for a compelling read.
You really want to fly into SJU during a category 5 hurricane, DL431?— Jason Rabinowitz (@AirlineFlyer) September 6, 2017
Everyone else has turned around. pic.twitter.com/nHdChvYh2Y
The Delta crew were so confident in their abilities that they even bumped the return flight's departure time up by 25 minutes.
DL431 is suppose to land at San Juan, PR in 20 minutes. Why? pic.twitter.com/vQCZwu6zL2— mike.mccarron (@CAPTMCMcCarron) September 6, 2017
In scenes more reminiscent of a racetrack than a runway, the Delta flight landed, taxied in, disembarked and loaded up once more before taking off, all in just 52 minutes.
As the flight radar maps show, the pilot even managed to navigate through the relatively clear air between the choppy outer band of the storm system and the center.
The story quickly became an internet sensation and the memes took off online almost as quickly as the flight did from the tarmac.