Kentucky missionary family survives Irma; ready to help community

As Hurricane Irma, one of the most powerful Atlantic Ocean hurricanes, approached Puerto Rico on Wednesday, one last flight raced to the Caribbean island to drop off and pick up the airport's last passengers of the day.

Jason Rabinowitz, who writes at Airline Reporter, watched and tweeted today as Delta Flight 431, from NY, headed for the storm.

Airlines are offering more seats for those evacuating from the path of Hurricane Irma as spots on their regularly scheduled flights out of Florida fill up.

"As Irma got closer, we were getting anxious", she said.

Storm damage is likely to complicate Puerto Rico's financial situation, although the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has workers on the island ready to help with disaster preparation.

People on the internet were able to follow the flight thanks to updates from Twitter accounts like Flightradar24 and aviation fans such as Jason Rabinowitz, who monitored it through online tracking services.

Tropical Storm Jose forms in the open Atlantic
A trough of low pressure located over the southwestern Gulf of Mexico is producing numerous showers and thunderstorms. Jose has formed as Hurricane Irma is surging forward , further to the west in the Atlantic, as a Category 5 storm.

In fact, three jets, two from JetBlue and one from American, tried to sneak into the nation's capital, San Juan, before the storm but were forced to turn back. From touching down on the runway to taxiing to the gate, unloading bags and passengers, cleaning the plane, loading new bags, boarding new passengers, taxiing back out and taking off: 52 minutes. Rabinowitz live-tweeted the flight, first asking, "You really want to fly into SJU during a category 5 hurricane, DL431? Believe me, not good", he said.

Despite the delay in leaving NY, the flight managed to get out of Puerto Rico at 12:41pm, 24 minutes ahead of its scheduled takeoff.

Erik Snell, the Vice President of Delta Opearations, said their meteorology "is the best in the business". Delta flight DL431 stayed its course, heading right at the storm.

The plane managed a tight turnaround, with Delta recording flight 302 (the same aircraft's return journey) departing San Juan at 12:41pm - just 40 minutes after it landed.

While the escape certainly looks harrowing, the flight crew and Delta Airlines clearly knew that they had a window in which they could operate both flights safely.

  • Sonia Alvarado