A HERO pilot diverted his Edinburgh-bound passenger plane after it was hit by a bird strike in midair this morning.
Panicked passengers praised the crew after they turned around and landed safely back in Cardiff.
The 7am flight BE4501 from the Welsh capital eventually took off again and landed in Edinburgh shortly before 10am - an hour and 47 minutes late.
A spokeswoman for the airline said: "Flybe can confirm that following a bird-strike the captain took the appropriate decision to return to Cardiff as a precautionary measure.
"Following a thorough engineering inspection, the aircraft was cleared for departure and departed for Edinburgh with a delay of one hour and 50 minutes.
"The safety of its passengers and crew is the airline’s number one priority at all times and Flybe would like to sincerely apologise for any inconvenience experienced."
Despite the drama, passengers told how the crew kept their calm - and their sense of humour.
One tweeted: "Grounded in Cardiff after aircraft turned around half way to Edinburgh because of a bird strike.
"Airline staff/pilot looking after us though (has a small meltdown due to feeling hot/panicky).
"Drinks are on pilot, he says. Safety first, always Flybe. Bring on Edinburgh."