The captain of a Delta Air Lines flight from Detroit to Atlanta was forced to turn around on Dec. 30, 2017, after discovering an undesirable companion on the flight deck.
A bird had entered the cabin as passengers boarded Flight 1943, according to The Associated Press.
The pilot informed the ticket agent and a search of the plane was conducted to find the unwanted passenger. But after searching for around an hour, they assumed the bird had left the aircraft.
"The explanation was the bird had apparently flown out of some type of hatch under the plane, which seemed strange to me," Shane Perry, a minister and a passenger on the flight, told The Washington Post.
"We're going to take off, but if I hear any chirping in the cockpit, I'll turn around," Perry recalled the pilot as stating.
Perry added that he took this comment as a joke.
A Delta spokesperson said that "shortly after takeoff," the bird reappeared in the cockpit. Perry alleged it was five minutes after departure, but another passenger stated it felt more like an hour.
"The bird is flying around the cockpit," the pilot stated, according to Perry.
The captain decided to return to Detroit to avoid a potential distraction. According to a flight tracker, the plane made a loop around Detroit before landing at the airport.
Workers returned to the aircraft and were eventually able to find the bird, which they wrapped in a towel when they left the cockpit. The passengers did not report seeing what type of bird it was.
The flight was then able to take off and arrived safely in Atlanta.
Other encounters between birds and planes have resulted in much more damage. In September 2017, a Badr Airlines jet on an internal flight in Sudan suffered severe damage to its nose after a direct bird strike. Pictures showed carcasses of the birds inside the plane, which the pilot managed to land despite the impact, The Sun reported.
At Heathrow Airport in London, England, in September 2017, a British Airways plane had to turn around after witnesses reported one of its engines bursting into flames. The suspected cause of the fire was a bird strike shortly after departure.
Two other Delta planes, both traveling from Atlanta to London, England, turned around mid-flight on Jan. 2. In the first incident, the pilots heard a loud bang and decided the safest option was to return to Atlanta, reports WSB-TV.
The passengers from that flight were placed on a second plane, which also was forced to turn around. Mechanics are reportedly examining the planes involved to determine what caused both incidents.
Sources: Detroit Free Press, WSB-TV, The Washington Post, The Sun via New York Post / Featured image: Ed Maloney/Delta Airlines via Wikimedia Commons / Embedded Images: Tichnor Brothers/Digital Commonwealth via Wikimedia Commons, Redlegsfan21/Flickr via Wikimedia Commons