Airline passengers onboard Spirit Airlines jet landing in central Florida, were reportedly delayed by a brazen alligator, who was observed crossing the runway at Orlando International Airport.
The bizarre close encounter happened on Monday, according to one passenger, who explained how a Spirit Airlines aircraft, flying in from Washington DC, was “held up” because of the wandering reptile.
“Only in Florida… a gator held up our plane crossing the runway on the way home from DC. Just another adventure,” Anthony Velardi posted on Facebook.
According to Orlando’s News 6, the gator was eventually coaxed into a local pond and the airplane made it safely to the gate.
It’s estimated that Florida has a gator population of more than one million. The number of wild beasts has prompted the government to set up a designated program called SNAP to remove alligators from unwanted location.
“The Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program (SNAP) is administered by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Division. SNAP uses contracted nuisance alligator trappers throughout the state to remove alligators from locations where they are unwanted or unwelcome,” according to Florida’s wildlife authorities.
Orlando International Airport is a major public airport located six miles (10 km) southeast of Orlando, Florida, United States. In 2017, MCO handled 44,611,265 passengers making it the busiest airport in the state of Florida and the eleventh busiest airport in the United States.
The airport serves as a hub for Silver Airways, as well as a focus city for Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest, and Spirit. Southwest is the airport’s largest carrier by passengers carried. The airport also is a major international gateway for the mid-Florida region, with flights by foreign air carriers. At 13,302 acres (5,383 ha), MCO is one of the largest commercial airports in the U.S.
The airport code MCO stands for the airport’s former name, McCoy Air Force Base, a Strategic Air Command (SAC) installation, that was closed in 1975 as part of a general military drawdown following the end of the Vietnam War.
In terms of commercial airline service, the Greater Orlando area is also served by Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB), and more indirectly by Daytona Beach International Airport (DAB), Orlando Melbourne International Airport (MLB), Tampa International Airport (TPA), and St. Pete–Clearwater International Airport (PIE).