Flight returns to Detroit after bird enters plane during boarding, officials say

Officials: Bird safely removed, set free

ROMULUS, Mich. – Delta officials said a Saturday flight to Atlanta returned to Detroit because a bird had entered the plane.

Delta Flight 1943 at Detroit Metro Airport bound for Atlanta was taxiing to the runway when the captain turned it back to the gate for something he had never seen in his 20 years as a pilot -- a small bird snuck on board and was in the cockpit.

The pilots became aware of the small bird in the cockpit shortly after takeoff, which had entered the plane during boarding, officials said.

The bird was so small, they couldn't find it, even after more than an hour of searching.

The captain said he thought it was a hummingbird, which is the only bird that can fly backward. It's quite appropriate for what a passenger says happened next.

"Literally an hour into the flight, he goes, 'I have an update that the bird is back and it's going a little nuts in here in the cockpit and we do not feel safe continuing on this flight, so we're going to go back to Detroit,'" passenger Brian Buonassissi said.

The captain made the decision to return to Detroit out of an abundance of caution, avoiding a potential distraction during the flight. Officials said the plane landed without incident.

The bird was safely removed and set free, officials said. The plane resumed the flight to Atlanta.

Buonassissi, who is an international DJ and was trying to get to a show, admits it was frustrating to not just continue on to Atlanta, but agrees safety has to come first.

"I have had some crazy stories, but that one takes the cake for sure," Buonassissi said.

Buonassissi made his gig. The only discrepancy between his account and Delta's is instead of an hour into the flight, Delta said the plane turned around shortly after take off.

About the Authors:

Jason anchors Local 4's 5:30 p.m. newscast. He joined WDIV in January 2015 as a general assignment reporter and has a Journalism degree from Michigan State University.

Troy Blevins is a Digital Content Editor who has been with Graham Media Group since 2012.