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UA 2781 (Cargo only GUM-LAX) Diverts to Midway Atoll 16 April 2021

UA 2781 (Cargo only GUM-LAX) Diverts to Midway Atoll 16 April 2021

Old Apr 17, 21, 4:33 am
  #1  
DEN
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UA 2781 (Cargo only GUM-LAX) Diverts to Midway Atoll 16 April 2021

I don’t have all the details, and often early information is not accurate but here what I got from several people who are in the loop:

UA 2781 GUM/LAX diverts to PMDY with reports of smoke in the cockpit. MDY is maintained as an emergency landing field ( to allow for ETOPS operations in the North Pacific) and is located on Midway Atoll ( of the Battle of Midway WW2 fame ). It is maintained apparently by the US Fish and Wildlife Service with many services performed under contract by a Chugach Alaska subsidiary

https://flightaware.com/live/flight/...850Z/PGUM/PMDY

A version of a Keystone Cops like episode began and the plane finally landed, unassisted.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/midwayisland. (Sorry, I found out this is a private group )

A plane was dispatched from HNL presumably with parts and mechanics and perhaps more snack boxes for the small crew......(I added the snack box part knowing that crew get better meals than passengers in many cases )

https://flightaware.com/live/flight/...740Z/PHNL/PMDY

I spent some time on Midway in a different life and have returned once when the atoll was open to visitors. The atoll is now closed to visitation.

What the heck are birdwatchers doing operating an emergency airport?

Again, I’m just a messenger so don’t blame me if this is not all accurate.

Added link(s):
https://www.kitv.com/story/43689476/...t-midway-atoll
https://maps.avnwx.com/airport/PMDY Apparently there is limited radio contact hours but there is an Iridium satellite phone listed.
https://www.avherald.com/h?article=4...iD3HIqSBu9wZjo

DEN

Last edited by DEN; May 4, 21 at 11:47 am Reason: Added AVherald link, justbpa4oting
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Old Apr 17, 21, 5:38 am
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Thanks for posting; FYI, your Facebook link is to a private site so we can't see the content. From what I recall, the gooney birds present a significant challenge to airline operations, especially departures.
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Old Apr 17, 21, 5:58 am
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Does this flight even carry passengers?
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Old Apr 17, 21, 6:00 am
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Originally Posted by FlyinHawaiian View Post
Thanks for posting; FYI, your Facebook link is to a private site so we can't see the content. From what I recall, the gooney birds present a significant challenge to airline operations, especially departures.
Sorry about that and I don’t want to cut and paste the FB postings since it is private. It does go into a bit more about the 24/7 duties and requirements of the FWS and the airport management including the pre landing sweep of the airfield for FOD and birds. When the goonies (albatross) are nesting and fledging, only nighttime flight operations are allowed to minimize bird strikes. Mid-Pacific Jets I believe operates to/from monthly flights to MDY for food and staffing purposes. For some reason they have made their Flight Aware data private for MDY flights, but you can see other flights to Wake (WAK) and Palmyra (P16).

As the FB story goes, the island was non-responsive to radio calls and emails, the aircraft circled a bit, remotely turned on landing lights ( you pilots know how this is done ) and landed unassisted. The story also continues that it took 2h 40m after landing before someone woke up and showed up.

DEN

Last edited by DEN; Apr 17, 21 at 8:53 am Reason: spelling
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Old Apr 17, 21, 6:04 am
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Originally Posted by Miles Ahead View Post
Does this flight even carry passengers?
My understanding is that this was a cargo flight with 3 crew member aboard.
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Old Apr 17, 21, 7:28 am
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cargo flight only...........we can all continue to hope and dream this becomes a pax flight sometime soon!
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Old Apr 17, 21, 7:34 am
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Originally Posted by Miles Ahead View Post
Does this flight even carry passengers?
This specific one didn't. Cargo only, according to the KITV link.
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Old Apr 17, 21, 10:58 am
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Originally Posted by Miles Ahead View Post
Does this flight even carry passengers?
Cargo only, none of these flights exist pre covid, SIN-GUM-LAX, or if you see any of those HKG-GUM-LAX are maintenance
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Old Apr 17, 21, 11:48 am
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In the past, when flights have diverted to MDY, pax and crew were usually treated to guided tours of the island by FWS personnel. An remarkable amount of WWII history and natural sightseeing there... talk about an off-the-beaten-path destination.

Originally Posted by DEN View Post
As the FB story goes, the island was non-responsive to radio calls and emails, the aircraft circled a bit, remotely turned on landing lights ( you pilots know how this is done ) and landed unassisted. The story also continues that it took 2h 40m after landing before someone woke up and showed up.
DEN
A stranded 789 as an unexpected visitor is a hell of a thing to wake up to!!
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Old Apr 17, 21, 11:56 am
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Originally Posted by DEN View Post
... remotely turned on landing lights ...
This has been used in other MDY diversions

Diversion in 2014 of a passenger flight, similar issues with preparedness of the site and oddly smoke
[10 July, 2014] UA201 (HNL-GUM) Diverts to Midway Atoll Due to Smell of Smoke Onboard
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Old May 3, 21, 5:16 pm
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So did this A/C ever get back into the air and away from MDY?

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Old May 3, 21, 6:05 pm
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Originally Posted by DELee View Post
So did this A/C ever get back into the air and away from MDY?
traveled the next day to HNL and then LAX
https://flightaware.com/live/flight/...440Z/PMDY/PHNL

LAX was the original destination of this cargo flight
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Old May 4, 21, 7:20 am
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Iím a big aficionado of history so in all honesty, I wouldnít object to a diversion or a scheduled stop on Midway Atoll to see firsthand WW2 history.
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Old May 4, 21, 8:56 am
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Originally Posted by Intl359Widget View Post
I’m a big aficionado of history so in all honesty, I wouldn’t object to a diversion or a scheduled stop on Midway Atoll to see firsthand WW2 history.
In the past, passengers were allowed off the aircraft and even given short tours. The fact that the gymnasium and theatre are now in ruin and the main open side hanger is becoming unsafe, there is no place on the island for a large group to gather safely so I’m sure deplaning will no longer be allowed, unless necessary. They don’t even have air-stairs tall enough to reach wide body aircraft doors. In addition, there is talk of invasive species (plants) restrictions which will require significant decontamination of cargo and people’s clothing prior to arrival. A mouse eradication program (using Brodifacoum-25D ) in ready to go once they deal with COVID issues which will restrict how any supply ships can use the port and docks. They have found traces of big headed ants also, which love to eat chicks and are difficult to eradicate.

The atoll is under the strict control of the FWS and the visitors program is over and will probably never return. Only a privileged few can visit along with bird counting volunteers. This atoll houses the only national Battle Memorial that you cannot visit.

Currently there are only 8 Americans on island, 2 with the FWS, 2 volunteers, the airport manager, Chugach Manager and 2 firefighters. The rest, usually around 30, are Thai contract workers. US labor laws and wage rules don’t apply to Midway because of its special designation (unincorporated territory). When the flight landed, both the FWS and airport manager were off island.

If you search around, you will find little detailed information about this embarrassing incident. The FWS and Chugach have been told not to discuss it. No press releases nor hero stories have been published like when the Delta and United flights landed. President Obama was there a number of years ago when they expanded the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument and showed all the plastic washed up on the beach......which pretty much all comes from the Asian continent.

The US spends a ton of money to keep this airport open and yet.....the atoll workers slept through it all!

DEN

Last edited by DEN; May 4, 21 at 9:52 am Reason: Added rodenticide info
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Old May 4, 21, 12:48 pm
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Originally Posted by DEN View Post
In the past, passengers were allowed off the aircraft and even given short tours. The fact that the gymnasium and theatre are now in ruin and the main open side hanger is becoming unsafe, there is no place on the island for a large group to gather safely so Iím sure deplaning will no longer be allowed, unless necessary. They donít even have air-stairs tall enough to reach wide body aircraft doors. In addition, there is talk of invasive species (plants) restrictions which will require significant decontamination of cargo and peopleís clothing prior to arrival. A mouse eradication program (using Brodifacoum-25D ) in ready to go once they deal with COVID issues which will restrict how any supply ships can use the port and docks. They have found traces of big headed ants also, which love to eat chicks and are difficult to eradicate.

The atoll is under the strict control of the FWS and the visitors program is over and will probably never return. Only a privileged few can visit along with bird counting volunteers. This atoll houses the only national Battle Memorial that you cannot visit.

Currently there are only 8 Americans on island, 2 with the FWS, 2 volunteers, the airport manager, Chugach Manager and 2 firefighters. The rest, usually around 30, are Thai contract workers. US labor laws and wage rules donít apply to Midway because of its special designation (unincorporated territory). When the flight landed, both the FWS and airport manager were off island.

If you search around, you will find little detailed information about this embarrassing incident. The FWS and Chugach have been told not to discuss it. No press releases nor hero stories have been published like when the Delta and United flights landed. President Obama was there a number of years ago when they expanded the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument and showed all the plastic washed up on the beach......which pretty much all comes from the Asian continent.

The US spends a ton of money to keep this airport open and yet.....the atoll workers slept through it all!

DEN
I definitely appreciate the informative post and I learned some new things about Midway Atoll thanks to you.

I cannot really comment much due to the nature of my employment in the industry but this incident is considered a severe ETOPS failure on the part of the airport/station. It is a regulatory oversight and will most definitely have the attention of the administrator at the FAA because the flight crew will file a report and the operator will file a voluntary report on the incident.
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