Don’t panic, but if you’ve got travel plans today or within the next couple of days, you might want to check the status of your flight. An unexpected incident that occurred earlier today may have just thrown off your itinerary in a major way: Thousands of flights across the country are now delayed due to a plane hitting a deer somewhere over Iowa.
Sorry, travelers. Odds are, you’re staying put for now.
A Denver-bound United flight had been traveling along its route, cruising at a standard 550 MPH at an altitude of 40,000 feet over Iowa’s Boone County, when the pilots noticed a white-tailed deer directly in the plane’s path. Unable to maneuver the aircraft out of the way in time, the Boeing 737 collided with the deer, its body lodging halfway through the plane’s windshield between the pilot and copilot. The pilots walked away from the accident shaken up but entirely unscathed, telling airline officials they had been “terrified that [they’d] hit a human at first and were relieved upon discovering it was just a deer.”
Thankfully, no passenger injuries were reported onboard either, and aside from the windshield, damage to the plane was exclusively cosmetic. But as a result of the deer collision, the Federal Aviation Administration has grounded all flights out of major airline hubs until flying conditions are inspected and travel is deemed safe to resume. Shutdowns of this scale are a standard response from the FAA and have happened as recently as 2011, when a number of international flights had to be turned around after a Delta airliner hit a family of raccoons over the Atlantic about 200 miles off the coast.
Check out the FAA’s statement below:
“We apologize for any inconvenience travelers may be experiencing, but it’s vital that we assess whether this was a single stray deer or one member of a larger herd located over this air traffic–heavy area,” reads the FAA’s press release. “While it is certainly fortunate that everyone onboard was okay, hitting a deer at that speed and elevation has the potential to cause serious damage. We hope to have all airline operations back to normal as soon as we clear this flight path.”
Although the delays have backed up countless flights and stranded thousands of people at airports around the country, the FAA clearly made the responsible move here. It’s better to fly out a little later than it is to fly out with a chance of your plane hitting a deer 40,000 feet in the air. Even so, it’s got to be hugely frustrating for everyone affected by this. All we can say now is hang in there, folks!