Relative of Wood Brothers hailed as hero for flight out of Puerto Rico as Hurricane Irma neared

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A cousin of the Wood Brothers family is being hailed as a hero for flying the last commercial plane out of Puerto Rico as Hurricane Irma came barreling over the island.

Chuck Joyce, a former spotter, has been a Delta pilot for 20 years.

“They definitely knew this was going to be tight,” said Billy Williams, a brother-in-law who conferred with Mr. Joyce before calling the (Pittsburgh) Post-Gazette. Mr. Joyce and his family are — understandably — wary of the media spotlight. Mr. Joyce’s daughter communicated with the Post-Gazette via Twitter and direct messages.

The Post-Gazette story stated that according to Delta, the flight from New York arrived “to nine miles of visibility and light rain. Winds were around 24 knots with gusts up to 31 knots — all well below operating limits for the 737-900ER to safely operate.”

While the plane refueled and passengers loaded, a long, narrow gap opened, between the outer band and the core of the hurricane, according to the Post-Gazette. The plane took off.

“They weren’t going to risk 173 lives or the equipment if they didn’t feel it was doable,” Williams told the Post-Gazette. “Pilots are part of the decision, but when push comes to shove, the captain can say ‘I’m not comfortable — This is not safe.’

“Chuck’s from the military. If you met Chuck, he’s a man of courage to do the thing that needs to get done, but he’s not a hot dog.

“He’ll say “I absolutely, categorically reject being looked at as a hero. He’d say, ‘We had it covered. All the right people were working the plan. I had one part, and I did it.’ ”