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While most airlines are trying to stay away from the Caribbean while Hurricane Irma continues to batter islands there, a single Delta Flight tried the impossible. Just before the eye of the Category 5 hurricane reached Puerto Rico, Delta Flight 431 landed at Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport and took off early 52 minutes later to head back to New York. The plane’s journey went viral on Twitter as flight watcher Jason Rabinowitz chronicled every step of the flight.
As Rabinowitz noted, the flight actually took off late from JFK, leaving at 8:39 a.m. instead of 8:05 a.m. While everyone else was heading back, the pilots on the flight pressed on, while the outer bands of Irma were over Puerto Rico.
Even before the flight landed, Rabinowitz noted that Delta was estimating that Delta Flight 302, which was using the same plane, would leave early after 431 landed in San Juan. It landed just before noon.
Once it landed, Rabinowitz tweeted that it was now time for the “quickest turn ever.”
Even as the wind started picking up, the plane began taxiing to leave the airport. It created an incredible image of the plane leaving between an outer band of Irma.
Amazingly, the plane spent just 52 minutes on the ground.
At 1:23 p.m. ET, Rabinowitz tweeted that the flight was still at the outer bands of the storm, flying between clouds.
Two hours later, the air traffic control tower at San Juan was evacuated.
Amazingly, the flight landed at 4:!5 p.m. ET in New York, 46 minutes ahead of schedule.