Bees, fire and coyote delay flights at Charlotte Douglas

Bees, fire and coyote delay flights at Charlotte Douglas


by RAD BERKY / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @RadBerkywcnc

Posted on July 24, 2013 at 11:54 PM

Updated Thursday, Jul 25 at 12:05 AM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Swarming bees, a smokey fire in one of the concourses, and a wandering coyote combined to cause flight delays and some moments of concern for passengers Wednesday afternoon at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport.

An airport employee used a can of bug spray to try to fend off a swarm of bees around the front of a US Airways flight that was trying to leave for Indianapolis around 2 p.m.

The bees were all around the tug tractor that is used to push the plane away from the gate -- so if the tractor couldn't move, the plane wasn't going anywhere.

Charlotte Observer sports reporter Jim Utter was on the plane that sat on the tarmac for nearly two hours.

"It's just really strange.  We're not allowed to get off the plane," Utter said.

Bee expert Jim Odom was eventually called to the plane.  Odom set up a frame with beeswax and slowly the bees crawled onto the frame.

When most of them moved away from the tractor the plane could finally move out onto the runway for takeoff.

As the plane took off just after 4 p.m., attention switched to Concourse E where a fire broke out along one of the moving walkways.

"You could see that the moving sidewalk was on fire.  It was like, how are they going to get us out because there were so many people," said passenger Jennifer Clark, who arrived on a flight from Las Vegas.

Another passenger, Katherine Sibunka said, "My first thought was, 'Oh goodness, are we trapped out here.'"

Assistant Airport Director Jack Christine said, "It was not a massive fire.  It was something inside the mechanical unit."

Interim Airport Director Brent Cagle said police and firefighters did a good job controlling the situation.

"There are no injuries reported with this incident," Cagle said.

And while all this was going on, a coyote somehow got onto airport property and caused another plane to be delayed for a short time.

Cagle, who is relatively new as the airport's top official, called it all "an interesting day."