When it comes to flying, there are two distinct teams that quickly form: the “even out of fear” VS the “jemechieupper”. Well, believe me that after this top, we will all form one and the same team united in its rejection and phobia of these “iron birds”. Never again let anyone tell me that it’s the safest means of transport, if sparrows are capable of crashing them. NEVER AGAIN.
1. A320 VS a flock of Canadian geese
On January 15, 2009, US Airways flight 1549 took off from LaGuardia Airport (New York) bound for Charlotte, North Carolina. On board: 150 passengers and five crew members. After only a few minutes of travel, the Airbus 320 hit a flock of Canadian geese, relatively large birds (up to 122 centimeters and 11 kg). Result: Both aircraft motors are damaged and stop working. Fortunately, the pilot managed to keep control of the airliner, and landed it on the Hudson River, saving the lives of 155 people. One of the only situations where a plane can literally arrive safely. Hats off, sailor.
(Does this story mean something to you? It’s that you’ve probably seen the movie “Sully”: a film adaptation of the air disaster, with Tom Hanks (an actor who can only be nice in real life).)
2. A321 VS gulls
A story quite close to the previous one! On August 15, 2019, an Ural Airlines Airbus A321, after taking off from Moscow, collided with a flock of gulls. No river on the horizon for a makeshift landing, but a field of corn. It was here that Captain Yusupov managed to land the device, saving the lives of 233 people. Several injuries, including one serious, are still to be deplored. A minute of silence, all the same, for the poor farmer who had his crops smashed without asking anything.
3. A bird caused the crash of an army plane
September 2021, Texas. A Navy plane, piloted by a student pilot and his instructor, is in the middle of a training exercise and is heading for the base in Fort Worth (Dallas). It was without counting on a bird which passed by and which decided to crash on the device. The two men then decided to eject from the aircraft. In its fall, the plane damaged three houses. Luckily, no casualties were reported.
4. Starlings killed 62 people
Unfortunately, things don’t always end as well as in previous stories. Sensitive souls, I prefer to warn you right away: from this point on, all top crashes are fatal. You have been warned. In October 1960, Eastern Airlines Flight 375 crashed into Winthrop Bay shortly after taking off from Logan. The aircraft struck starlings, which got sucked into the engines. 62 people died.
5. 35 passengers die from a group of pigeons
28 years later, on September 15, 1988, an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737-260 struck pigeons during takeoff, between 100 and 200 feet above the ground. The plane loses power and the engines begin to sputter, but the pilot still manages to turn away from Lake Tana and return to the airstrip. Unfortunately, when returning, the motors stop working. The pilot still attempted a landing, but the aircraft broke up and caught fire on the tarmac. 35 of the 102 passengers died in the accident.
6. In Nepal, a bird kills 19 people
This time, it was a twin-engine plane from a Nepalese company that crashed in September 2012, shortly after taking off from Kathmandu. Carrying on board five Chinese tourists and seven Britons to Everest, his flight was finally interrupted by a bird collision. It crashed violently near the banks of a river and then burst into flames, leaving no chance of survival for its passengers.
7. 4 dead in Seine-et-Marne because of a cormorant
In April 2021, four people boarded a tourist plane, in Seine-et-Marne. In full flight, the left wing of the small plane was struck by a cormorant-type bird. The aircraft crashed in a field in the town of Saint-Pathus. In the accident, the 37-year-old flight instructor and his three students (from 21 to 40 years old) perish.
8. “The Birdman”, killed by a bird
This is the first fatality caused by the collision of an airplane and a bird. Calbraith Perry Rodgers was the 49th airman to earn his license in the world. He was particularly known for having made the first transcontinental flight across the USA, between September 17 and November 5, 1911. His national fame will ultimately be short-lived, since he perished in the crash of his plane in April 1912, in front of hundreds of people. He was in the middle of an air show in California when he collided with a flock of birds. A sad end for the one who was paradoxically nicknamed “Birdman”… Yeah, it was gratifying at the base, but with a little hindsight on his death, it quickly becomes bad taste.
9. Same tragic fate for the Thunderbirds
The Thunderbirds is a precision flight group established in 1953 as an official US Air Force demonstration team. In October 1958, a Fairchild C-123B was carrying 19 people on board when it collided with a formation of geese. The plane crashed near Payette, Idaho. All passengers died in the crash.
10. Fatal crash after a group of birds destroy the cockpit
In 1969, an Ilyushin (a military transport plane with four engines, designed in the Soviet Union from 1967), carrying 17 people, was hit hard by a flock of birds. This time, there is no question of a damaged engine, but of a cockpit completely destroyed by birds, barely 4 minutes after takeoff. None of the people on board survived.