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Hail forces Long Beach-bound jetliner to return to New York

March 28, 2010 |  6:39 pm

A JetBlue flight headed from New York to Long Beach made an abrupt landing at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Sunday night after the pilots believed their aircraft had struck a flock of birds, an airline official said.

Flight 217 returned to the airport around 7:30 p.m. after roughly 30 minutes in the air, said JetBlue spokesman Alex Headrick. Once the Airbus A-320 was on the ground, the airline determined that it had been hit by hail, not birds.

"They decided it would be prudent to return to JFK rather than continue on," he said.

The jet's 150 passengers were put on another plane. Headrick had no information on whether the aircraft sustained any significant damage.

-- David Zahniser