WASHINGTON – The plane, which will transport dozens of journalists to Europe to cover President Biden’s first trip abroad, was on the runway, ready to take off.
The cicadas had other ideas.
Somehow, the flying insects had filled the plane’s engines, grounded it, and forced Mr. Biden’s aides to fight to find another way to ferry reporters abroad. What was supposed to be a departure at 9 p.m. was postponed until 11 a.m. and then until 2:15 p.m.
Perhaps it was inevitable, as billions of cicadas have flown around much of the eastern United States in recent weeks. In the country̵
White House officials reported the insect malfunction to reporters who had gathered at the airport hotel, along with assurances that a new plane was headed for Washington from New York. A new pilot in Cleveland was soon to be on the road – both officials hoped would do so safely through a cicada cloud thick enough around Washington to be caught on weather radar.
Pizza was delivered, along with the opportunity to pick up a few winks in a hotel room. The bar extended its hours for those who decided to stay awake instead.
On Twitter, the word about the delay – tweeted from the reporters’ room – quickly sparked sympathy, contempt and the usual grim comments that can only be generated by a story about Washington’s politics.
“Are cicadas considered hijackers and is the FBI negotiating the release of the plane?” One tweeted. “What are the requirements of cicadas?”
Another wrote, “Check for shells on #maga,” apparently a reference to the fact that this is Biden’s press.
When one man wrote, “These cicadas are an enemy of the press,” another replied, “Did he indoctrinate and recruit the cicadas GP?”
And more than one person made it clear that they were not particularly upset by the inconvenience of the White House press service.
“Was the press charter delayed?” One wrote after hearing about the episode. “Congratulations to these patriotic cicadas for their good work!”