A crowd of more than 700 passengers crammed Abilene Regional Airport on Wednesday afternoon as severe thunderstorms rolled through North Texas, causing major flight diversions at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.
“We are a primary diversion airport for DFW, so diversions are common,” said Don Green, Director of Aviation for Abilene Regional Airport. “But this is rare.”
Green said the 700 passengers were the largest group of stranded travelers the airport has seen in five years. He said some of the travelers could be stuck in the airport for several hours.
Laura Ashlock, wife of assistant professor of Bible, ministry and missions Dr. Rodney Ashlock, was also stranded in the airport. She said she was on her way to Paris, France, for a mission trip with her church.
“I’m flying with a representative of Westgate Church of Christ, in conjunction with Sunset School of Preaching, and we are going to visit schools and orphanages,” Laura Ashlock said. “I’ll be guest speaking and shopping – if I get there.”
The airport ordered more than 200 pizzas to feed the travelers – welcome news for Alicia LaFrance of Ponder, who was returning from a vacation in Grand Rapids, Mich.
“It’s been OK being stranded so far,” LaFrance said. “They ordered us some pizza, so it’s not too bad being stuck here.”
Traveler Dylan Trevors of Seattle was on his way to DFW to catch a connecting flight to Augusta, Ga., when his flight had to land in Abilene. Trevors said he liked Abilene – at least the parts he could see from the terminal.
“I like the hilly areas I can see to the south,” Trevors said. ” Otherwise it’s really flat here, and hot.”
Stranded passengers Ralph and Cindy Mendoza of Fort Worth were returning home from a vacation in Las Vegas when their flight was forced to land in Abilene.
“I think Abilene Airport has done a great job,” Cindy Mendoza said. “People here are really nice. Abilene has really rolled out the red carpet.”