TAMPA (CBSNewYork) — As Category 5 Hurricane Irma made its way through the Caribbean towards the Florida Keys, millions were forced to find safe places of refuge or escape the region and the hurricane’s fury.
On Wednesday afternoon, just before Irma struck Puerto Rico, Delta Airlines was able to help roughly 200 passengers get out of harm’s way just in the nick of time.
Incredible satellite images detail the journey of the last flight in and out of the San Juan area just before Hurricane Irma hit.
According to data from FlightRadar24.com, compiled by aviation enthusiast Jason Rabinowitz, DL431 — a Boeing 737-900 — touched down in San Juan, Puerto Rico at 12:00 p.m. ET as the Category 5 storm prepared to bear down on the region.
Prior to DL431’s arrival, three flights (two JetBlue, one American Airlines) turned around before reaching San Juan Airport.
With the massive storm closing in, Delta executed a 52-minute turn around and boarded passengers looking to escape Irma’s wrath and get to New York’s JFK airport.
Rabinowitz told CBS Local that the flight was reportedly completely full with “a long standby list.”
While the escape certainly looks harrowing, the flight crew and Delta Airlines clearly knew that they had a window in which they could operate both flights safely.
Since DL302 departed, San Juan Airport has been closed to both arriving and departing aircraft and the airport’s air traffic control tower has been evacuated.