HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Delta Airlines flight from Honolulu to Osaka, Japan made an unscheduled stop at the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge on Thursday when pilots noticed a major crack in the windshield of the cockpit.
According to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials, the 747 aircraft touched down safely on the Refuge's Henderson Field about 5:40 p.m. with 359 passengers and 19 crew members aboard.
The Delta crew kept the passengers on board until a second 747 arrived from Japan to deliver parts and mechanics, and fly the passengers back to Japan.
Passengers changed planes in the middle of the night and left for Osaka about 5 a.m., just before light and the albatross and other birds on the Refuge began to fly.
Given the condition of its windshield, the 747 could not wait until dark to land, which would have been safer because the birds are less active.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials say the plane struck two birds when it landed, one of which damaged the aircraft's wing flap.
"Bird strikes are always unfortunate and sad, but we are grateful the plane landed safety and everyone is okay," Refuge Manager Sue Schulmeister said of the landing. "It's a good thing Midway is here when needed for these types of situations."
Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge is part of the co-managed Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, which extends some 1,200 miles northwest from the main Hawaiian Islands.
Click HERE to view video of the Delta 747 after its landing on Midway Atoll.