Chartered White House Press Plane Delayed Due To Swarm Of Cicadas

By Bill Galluccio

June 9, 2021

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Photo: Getty Images

The White House press corps was scheduled to depart from Washington D.C. at 9 p.m. ET on Tuesday (June 8) night to fly to England to cover President Joe Biden's first international trip. When they arrived at Dulles International Airport, they learned that their flight was delayed because a swarm of cicadas had damaged the aircraft.

Officials said the cicadas managed to fly into the engine of the Delta Air Lines Airbus 330-300, causing damage to the plane's auxiliary power unit. Mechanics were unable to repair the damage, and Delta had to dispatch another aircraft and crew to the airport.

"At issue was the presence of periodical cicadas within the APU, rendering it unworkable," Delta spokesman Morgan Durrant said in a statement. "Delta teams dispatched a replacement Airbus A330 aircraft and crew to Washington-Dulles International Airport to operate the flight."

While they were waiting, President Biden arrived to leave on Air Force One. As he was boarding the aircraft, he had to swat one of the bugs from his neck.

"Watch out for the cicadas," he told reporters. "One just got me."

After a delay of more than six hours, the press corps finally took off for England.

There are so many cicadas swarming around Washington, D.C., that they are being picked up by radar, appearing as light rain or snow.

"You may have noticed a lot of fuzziness (low reflectivity values) on our radar recently. The Hydrometeor Classification algorithm shows much of it to be Biological in nature. Our guess? It's probably the #cicadas," the National Weather Service tweeted.

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