ASHEVILLE, N.C. (Mark Price/Charlotte Observer) - Air traffic was brought to a stand still Friday morning at Asheville Regional Airport in western North Carolina, after thousands of birds took over the airfield.
Runways were closed for “several hours,” causing some flights to be delayed as much as six hours, WLOS reported.
Airport officials acknowledged the flight hazard just before 11 a.m. in a tweet, but did not reveal what type of bird was involved in the take over.
“Confirming that thousands of birds landed on the airfield this morning,” the airport tweeted.
“Airport ops working diligently to disperse the flocks. Passengers should stay in touch with their airlines for changes to flight schedules, as some flights are delayed,” officials said in the tweet.
The tweet was followed about 20 minutes later with a message saying staff had cleared the birds, at least temporarily.
“The thousands of birds that landed on the airfield have been successfully dispersed,” a tweet said. “Airport ops crews will maintain a presence on the airfield throughout the day to insure the situation is resolved.”
The birds were identified as starlings by Asheville Citizen-Times, which reported the airport’s staff resorted to frightening the birds away with “sirens, fire trucks with water cannons, air cannons and pyrotechnic noise makers.”
“There were fire trucks going by and trying to spray them,” grounded passenger Alexis Conyers told WLOS. “Apparently they were like using loud noises and everything that they possibly could, and nothing was helping.”
News of the disturbance comes just a week after hundreds of birds slammed into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in uptown Charlotte.
Those birds were identified as migrating chimney swifts and a third of them died after crashing into the building’s plate glass windows.