Watch a “Conga Line” of Aircraft Evacuate Florida Ahead of Hurricane Irma
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
We’ve already seen the damage Hurricane Irma can do to airports. Saint Martin’s iconic AvGeek beach has been washed away and the SXM airport was left with substantial damage. Now, imagine those incredibly destructive winds sweeping through an airport stocked with light aircraft that normally take off at the speed of mere tropical storm force winds.
Well, that’s the situation that Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach faced as Hurricane Irma was bearing down on Florida. So, just like the major airlines did, the school evacuated all of its aircraft from the area.
However, unlike the airlines, Embry-Riddle evacuated all of its planes at once. This created a mesmerizing “conga line” on FlightRadar24’s flight-tracking map on Saturday morning:
If you want to see a slower version, FlightRadar24 provides this link where you can replay the “conga line” at anywhere from 12x to 120x speed. You’ll need to set a “RDDL” callsign filter if you want to hide other traffic.
While it may look like hundreds of planes taking to the skies to flee Hurricane Irma, it turns out to be only 63 aircraft, with 42 ending up at Auburn University Regional Airport. On Embry-Riddle Daytona Beach Campus’ Facebook page, they explained that the 63 aircraft were moved by “63 Certified Flight Instructors and one mechanic” to Birmingham’s Atlantic Aviation and Auburn University. Embry-Riddle noted that it was “grateful for the immediate offers to help and generously host not only our fleet, but safe location for our pilots and mechanic!”
Steve Swartz, a flight instructor for Auburn University’s flight school, boldly predicted that “for a brief moment in time, Auburn’s going to be the busiest airport in the Southeast.” However, just 42 arrivals over four hours likely didn’t stand a chance against nearby Atlanta’s Hartsfield–Jackson Airport (ATL), even if the arrivals were between 3:30am and 7:30am.
This isn’t the first time that Embry-Riddle has evacuated its planes from its Daytona Beach campus, having done so multiple times since its fleet was damaged by Hurricane Charlie in 2004. Just last year, the aeronautics university evacuated its aircraft ahead of Hurricane Matthew.
And, this will likely not be the last time the university has to move its aircraft out of harm’s way; it may even have to do so again before Hurricane Irma dissipates. As the massive hurricane’s track has shifted westward, Embry-Riddle might move its planes from Birmingham and Auburn even further northward, according to Swartz.
Featured image captured on FlightRadar24.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
- Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees