Well, there go all our anti-terror measures. Forget dangerous bottled water, or nail clippers – all it takes to shut down an airport is a bunch of lost turtles.
Yesterday morning, 78 of them decided to leave the bay and crawl onto an active taxiway. When an American Eagle flight noticed them, they notified the tower and the FAA halted all traffic for about 12 minutes.
It took a crew 35 minutes to gather up all the turtles and give the all clear for flights to resume.
What surprises me the most, is that this is apparently a fairly common thing – jets hit turtles several times a year at JFK. Surely a small fence could prevent the turtles from causing havoc at the airport? It’s one thing to be delayed due to bad weather, but to sit in a plane awaiting a departure slot because of turtles is just insulting.
The halted flights and clean up caused delays of up to an hour and a half, which is a pretty miserable way to start your vacation (if you were so lucky to be heading somewhere nice).
Every passenger stuck on the ground fantasizes about busting open the door and liberating people on the plane. For me, it usually involves the battle cry, “I GRANT YOU FREEDOM!!!” Of course, I’m no Robert McDonald. He acted on these urges during a delay at John F. Kennedy International Airport (yep, no surprise there).
The Glasgow, Scotland resident was charged with reckless and endangerment and criminal tampering for his shenanigans, which involved opening the emergency exit hatch. The cabin crew stopped McDonald before he could open the door enough to activate the emergency chute.
Delta Flight 149, which had just come from Rome and was to finish in Las Vegas, was stuck on the tarmac for close to three hours when the angry Scot had had enough. Local District Attorney Richard Brown offered a “no shit” explanation that highlights the benefits of a top legal education: “Apparently, the defendant wanted to get off the plane,” District Attorney Richard Brown said, “so he opened the emergency exit door.”
Ultimately, McDonald’s act of defiance ruined the evening for the 146 passengers on Flight 149. McDonald, who is 60 years old, risks spending the next one in prison if he’s convicted.