Weird Reasons Planes Turn Around Mid-flight
Turning a plane around mid-flight is a rare occurrence and is often due to some sort of pressing mechanical issue. But on occasion an unforeseeable, non-technological event happens that forces the plane to make an unexpected u-turn. That’s exactly what happened Thursday night when a plane going from New York to Tennessee had to make an emergency landing in West Virginia—because a bird hit the windshield.
Airport spokesman Mike Plante said the pilot alerted air traffic controllers they were going to make an emergency landing at 4:50 p.m., after a bird struck the plane and cracked the windshield.
It's not the only flight to have been forced to turn around because of encounters with birds. Earlier this week a plane lost an engine because of a bird strike, causing the Washington, D.C.-bound flight to return to Key West International Airport. Flight FR3445 to Palma de Mallorca in Spain returned to Manchester Airport after the plane collided with a bird shortly after takeoff. An American flight returned mid-journey to JFK Airport after the pilot hit a flock of geese after takeoff. And in 2010 a Beirut flight had to turn around when a bird got caught in the plane’s fan blades. Luckily, no one was injured in these cases, and the planes made it safely to the ground.
These freak events aren’t the only bizarre things to happen to or on a plane that force it to turn around. Over the years there’s been tales stories of airborne incidents that have caused mid-air detours. From odd smells and foreign creatures taking over the cabin to a mystery illness and an impromptu passenger performing Whitney Houston, these are some of the weirdest reasons planes have had to turn around.
Several flights have been forced to turn around because of encounters with large flocks of birds.
When a heating mechanism failed in the cargo area of an Air Canada flight from Tel Aviv to Toronto, the pilot decided to turn the plane around because one of the passengers had their French Bulldog below.
A British Airways flight from Heathrow to Dubai was forced to turn around in March because someone clogged the toilet.
Virgin Airlines said that one of its New York flights had to return to London’s Heathrow after a green laser beam aimed at the cockpit made the First Officer sick.
A mystery sickness took over several passengers on an American Airlines flight bound for Los Angeles, forcing it to return to London’s Heathrow.
A Japan-bound flight from Hawaii had to return after a passenger refused to sit down during the in-flight meal service because he wanted to meditate and do yoga in the back instead.
Singing Whitney Houston
A pilot had to make a sudden stop in Kansas City after a passenger refused to stop singing at the top of her lungs. One of her performances included a rendition of Whitney Houston's “I Will Always Love You.”
The smell of smoke on a plane can be scary. So scary that an American Airlines flight headed to Miami returned to Boston Logan International Airport after what was later determined to be burnt breadcrumbs in the toaster raised concern.
An Alaska Airlines flight bound for Portland returned to the gate in Los Angeles after a scorpion stung a woman.
An Open Door
The crew of a Jin Air Flight realized a door wasn’t shut about 40 minutes into the trip, causing the plane to turn around mid-air.
A Bag of Nuts
Cho Hyun-ah, a senior vice-president at Korean Air, caused such a commotion over having her macadamia nuts served in a bag instead of a bowl that the Incheon-bound flight had to turn back to New York.
A United Airlines flight bound for Austin, Texas from Newark, New Jersey was forced to make a sudden landing after passengers and crew detected the smell of smoke.
A US Airways flight from Atlanta to New York City returned to the gate in 2010 after maggots started spilling out of the overhead luggage compartments, onto passengers.
Peeing on a Passenger
Air Meditarranee Flight ML2673, en route from Algiers to Paris, was forced to divert to Lyon when a passenger urinated on another passenger.
Two Missing Passengers
In 2015 Air Malta flight KM 146 realized it forgot two passengers back at the gate about 40 minutes into the flight and had to turn around to pick up the pair.
An Air India flight recently got diverted during its flight to Singapore because of an uninvited four-legged passenger who snuck on board.
An Alaska Airlines flight had to be diverted after a passenger became violent when when flight attendants would serve him a beer.