Bird Strikes Hit Senior Obama Administration Officials’ Planes
(NEW YORK) — So much for the friendly skies — lately it seems like they’re full of angry birds, taking aim at high-ranking officials.
Bird strikes are very common, but sometimes they can cause significant damage.
On Thursday, there were three high profile incidents of birds flying into jet engines.
Vice President Biden’s plane, Air Force Two, was on approach into California’s Santa Barbara airport when the 757 was hit by birds.
The pilots noticed the bird strike right as it happened, but sources say that passengers couldn’t even tell the plane had hit anything.
“Think about a bird. It can be anything from a small bird, a couple ounces to eight, nine, ten pounds,” said Col. Stephen Ganyard, a former Marine Corps pilot and current ABC News consultant. “The size of the bird matters. How fast the aircraft is going matters.”
Biden’s plane touched down safely and an Air Force official said at no point was anyone in danger.
Out of an abundance of caution, the vice president hitched a ride home on a different Air Force plane.
“When there is a bird strike our safety procedure is to land safely as quickly as possible to get an assessment of what happened and review the extent of damage if there is damage,” said Lt. Gregg Johnson, a spokesman for the 89th Airlift Wing at Joint Base Andrews outside Washington.
“The fact that they did ground the aircraft, and the fact that Vice President couldn’t take that same aircraft onto his next destination tells us that there was some significant damage to the aircraft,” Ganyard said.
Biden wasn’t the only senior Obama administration official to run into some bird issues.
On the same day, somewhere between Brussels and Paris, a bird flew into the engine of the plane carrying Secretary Of State Hillary Clinton.
The flight was smooth – officials only discovered the bird after the plane landed and they saw feathers and body parts, according to a State Department official.
And then there was that dramatic emergency landing of Delta Airlines Flight 1063 at New York’s JFK Airport on Thursday.
Just seconds after a smooth takeoff, a flock of large birds was sucked right into the plane’s turbine.
The pilot calmly radioed back to the air traffic control tower.
“Delta 1063 has had an engine failure on the right engine declaring an emergency due to a bird strike,” the pilot was heard saying on the audio recording.
Passengers said the whole plane trembled and the cabin filled with smoke.
“Hit the right engine, plane shook us, where I thought we were coming down,” said Grant Cardone, a passenger on Flight 1063.
Bird strikes may be terrifying for passengers, but they’re actually very common.
According to the federal aviation administration they happen 20 times a day. Every year, birds cause well over $600 million in damages to aircraft.
“It may be a coincidence that we’ve seen a couple high profile bird strikes in the past couple days, but we also need to remember that this is Spring and it’s the bird migratory season,” Ganyard said.
Experts say there’s a much greater risk for aircraft to hit birds during migration, so for the next few weeks, they may have to learn to play nice and share the skies.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio