Passengers on a Horizon Airlines flight to Everett, Wash., had to spend a few extra minutes on the ground at San Diego International Airport on Thursday afternoon.
The flight, which left its gate six minutes earlier than expected, was forced to stop in its taxiway due to an unexpected visitor on its way.
This visitor, a pelican, as reported by the pilot of Horizon Air Flight 2179 bound for the San Diego International air traffic control tower, did not move in front of the oncoming aircraft.
At 1:40 p.m., the pilot can be heard on air traffic control radio recordings saying, “2179 sir… You won’t believe this, but we can’t because of a pelican sitting here on the taxiway… It is not moving…”
“Roger,” the seemingly confused traffic controller responds slowly.
The pilot responds quickly to ask, “Do you have anyone who can get down and out of the way? They might get hurt by the last wake turbulence or something…”
An airport spokesperson acknowledged the incident and said a pelican had landed “on the center line of the well done taxiway. It was not injured, but I was told that he was a bit reluctant to leave.”
A member of the airport’s airside operations team responded to the taxiway to encourage the pelican to move on, and it eventually did. Around 1:46 p.m., the taxiway was cleared and all flights could resume.
The flight arrived on time in Washington, according to FlightAware.com.
A spokesperson for Alaska Airlines, the airline that operates Horizon flights, said the plane still took off early despite the bird’s stopover on the tarmac.