WASHINGTON – Journalists covering President Joe Biden’s first trip abroad were delayed for several hours on Tuesday night to take off for Europe – but not because of bad weather or a late pilot.
Their charter plane suffered mechanical problems due to cicadas.
A replacement plane had to be called, and the press service eventually took off from Dulles International Airport for the United Kingdom early Wednesday morning, after waiting more than six hours to take off.
NBC News’s Andrea Mitchell tweeted about the ordeal and suggested she was not a fan of mistakes.
Billions of these large, noisy insects have overtaken the Washington, DC and other East Coast areas after coming out of the dungeon for the first time in 17 years. They are members of Brood X – the largest group of cicadas that live in 17-year cycles, which includes three species.
It is not clear how many cicadas were involved in the plane’s malfunction, but they have been flying around the DC area for weeks and have been spotted by Doppler radars, which are commonly used to track time.
Meanwhile, President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden take off for the United Kingdom on Wednesday morning on Air Force One from Joint Base Andrews. Before boarding her plane, a cicada flew over Biden’s neck and he carried her away.
“Watch out for cicadas,” the president joked to reporters.
NBC News foreign correspondent Molly Hunter, based in London, reacted to the plane’s delay for the press on Twitter, saying: “Good news: there are no cicadas on this side!”