(CBS11) – With Hurricane Irma bearing down on Puerto Rico, a Delta Air Lines crew successfully navigated a plane through a calm pathway in the outer bands of the Category 5 storm, getting evacuees out of San Juan on what was possibly the last flight off the island.
More than one hour earlier, in the beginning of a series of tense events, likely already aware that other airlines turned around, the Delta crew attempted to land in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Aviation blogger Jason Rabinowitz tweeted a photo, showing the flight and the outside bands of Hurricane Irma approaching the island.
Rabinowitz tracked the maneuver, essentially in real time, on his Twitter account. His posts went viral.
“My initial thought was good for them, someone actually tried, attempted and successfully landed. But the hard part had really just started,” said Rabinowitz.
Once on the ground, in a race against time, the crew had to service the plane — pump fuel, load passengers and more.
“They have to do their preflight checks, safety checks, a walk around of the entire aircraft, everything you typically do in about an hour-and-a-half or 2 hours, in maybe about a 30 minute span,” Rabinowitz said.
Fifty-two minutes after landing, the time had come. With water jettisoning out from behind the aircraft, the plane gained speed along the runway.
“Thankfully, they were able to get off the ground and snake their way out between the outer bands of Hurricane Irma, which is quite an impressive feat,” said Rabinowitz.
Rabinowitz also said everybody was safe and did not take any undue risk.