POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Jun 18, 2011
Passengers on a Delta Air Lines flight Thursday from Honolulu to Osaka made an unscheduled, 12-hour stopover on Midway Atoll after pilots noticed a major crack in the cockpit windshield and landed on the wildlife refuge.
The 747 aircraft landed safely at Midway's Henderson Field at about 5:40 p.m. Thursday with 359 passengers and 19 crew members aboard, said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which manages the airfield.
A replacement 747 arrived from Japan with mechanics and parts for the repair, and flew the passengers to Japan at about 5 a.m. Friday, officials said. The takeoff took place before daybreak, when albatross and other birds there begin to fly.
However, Thursday's landing took place when it was light and birds were active. The airliner hit two birds, one of which damaged a wing flap on the airliner.
"Bird strikes are always unfortunate and sad, but we are grateful the plane landed safely and everyone is OK," Sue Schulmeister, manager of the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, said in a news release.
"It's a good thing Midway is here when needed for these types of situations."
Delta officials could not be reached for comment Friday.
The refuge is part of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, which extends about 1,200 miles northwest from the main Hawaiian Islands.