Cicadas are being blamed for delaying the White House press corps’ flight to the United Kingdom on Tuesday night to cover Joe Biden’s first trip abroad as president.
What You Need To Know
- Cicadas are being blamed for delaying the White House press corps’ flight to the United Kingdom on Tuesday night to cover Joe Biden’s first trip abroad as president
- A charter plane had to be grounded because cicadas had flown into its auxiliary power unit, causing mechanical problems, according to reporters on the trip
- A new plane was brought in, which departed at 4 a.m., seven hours after the initial scheduled departure time
- Biden told reporters at Joint Base Andrews on Wednesday morning to "watch out for the cicadas," saying one had just landed on him
A charter plane carrying reporters had been scheduled to depart Dulles International Airport in Virginia at 9 p.m., but the Airbus A330 had to be grounded because cicadas had flown into its auxiliary power unit, making it inoperable, Delta Air Lines, which operated the flight, told Spectrum News.
“The White House press charter, flying from Dulles to Europe ahead of President Biden, has been delayed for hours — due to mechanical issues caused by cicadas,” Jonathan Lemire, a reporter for the Associated Press, tweeted. “Yes. Cicadas.”
The New York Times’ Michael D. Shear, reported that White House travel officials informed reporters of the cicada-related plane issues.
A new plane and pilot were brought in. According to tweets from reporters, the plane took off around 4 a.m., seven hours after the initial scheduled departure time.
Earlier reports said the cicadas had caused a problem with the plane's engines, but Delta clarified that it was actually to the auxiliary power unit, which operates similarly to a jet engine but on a smaller scale. It is one of multiple sources that provide electrical power to the aircraft cabin and other aircraft systems, and a fully functioning auxiliary power unit is required for transoceanic flight.
During the wait, reporters were offered pizza and an opportunity to nap in a hotel room, and the bar extended its hours, Shear reported.
Billions of cicadas from Brood X began to emerge in May after spending the last 17 years underground. They can be found in some areas along the East Coast as well as Ohio, Indiana and Tennessee. And while some admire the insects, others find them to be a noisy nuisance.
Tuesday night’s flight delay wasn’t the first time cicadas agitated reporters this season. Last month, video went viral on the internet of one of the bugs climbing onto the neck of CNN’s Manu Raju as he prepared for a live shot inside the U.S. Capitol.
At Joint Base Andrews on Wednesday morning, Biden told reporters gathered there to "watch out for the cicadas," saying one had just landed on him.
The press corps was traveling ahead of Biden, who leaves for the weeklong trip Wednesday. The president will attend the G7 summit in Cornwall, England, before heading to Brussels for the NATO summit and a meeting with with the heads of the European Union.
Biden also is scheduled to meet separately British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Queen Elizabeth II and Russian President Vladimir Putin, among others.
The press flight is coordinated by the White House, but the reporters pay their own way.
Correction: A previous version of this article, citing reports from the journalists at the scene, said cicadas had flown into the plane's engines. The insects actually impacted the aircraft's auxiliary power unit, Delta clarified.