POSTED: 2:39 p.m. HST, Jun 17, 2011
LAST UPDATED: 6:25 p.m. HST, Jun 17, 2011
Passengers on a Delta Airlines flight from Honolulu to Osaka took off from Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge this morning, 12 hours after making an unscheduled landing after pilots noticed a major crack in the cockpit windshield.
The 747 aircraft landed safely on the refuge’s Henderson Airfield 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.
Another 747 arrived from Japan with mechanics and parts for the repair, and flew the passengers to Japan about 5 a.m., officials said, just before light when albatross and other birds there begin to fly.
During the landing the plane 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.”
The refuge is part of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, which extends about 1,200 miles northwest from the main Hawaiian Islands.