Sheesh. I haven't seen a nose take on that much damage since my college days, ha ha
From CBS NY:
“Delta flight 1076 operating from West Palm Beach to New York-LaGuardia diverted to New York-JFK out of an abundance of caution following a mechanical issue. The flight landed safely and without incident and maintenance is evaluating the aircraft,” Delta said in a statement.
There were 43 passengers on board.
Despite early speculation that the damage may have been caused by a bird strike, Delta later said the impact was caused by hail.
Since ignorance is sometimes bliss, I'd never thought about hail damage happening to a plane mid-flight before... But now that I have, I've decided to really dig in, terrify myself with some internet searching and share it to scare others as well. You're welcome:
That last Tweet above is from a passenger who was on board a 2015 Delta flight with 125 passengers going from Boston to Salt Lake when it ran into some hail near Denver.
The problem is, hail is more or less invisible until you run into it. Being dark at the time of the incident didn’t help either. The other problem is that hail doesn’t just come out of the bottom of clouds but can be ejected from the top of some larger storms. Large thunderstorms are maelstroms of updrafts and downdrafts. When hail is caught in an updraft, it can be thrown out the top of the storm for dozens of miles. The airplane was cruising at 34,000 ft and likely well clear of the storm when it was hit.
I’m amazed every time I see a photo like this that the hail damage isn’t much worse. The airplane, after all, is traveling close to 500 miles per hour. Anyone who’s ever ridden a motorcycle can attest that simple rain drops at 60 mph are painful; imagine chunks of ice at 500 miles per hour. The fact that the windows were cracked but structurally intact is a testament to the engineering which goes into their design. A complete windscreen failure would mean a high probability for loss of the aircraft.
So rest easy… though this doesn't happen often, planes are built to withstand it when it does. Though I will 120% still soil my enormous Hanes if this ever happens to me.