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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

US airforce plane hit by 'fish' on air... !!!

‘Fish out of water’ metaphor is quite old…. It refers to ‘somebody who is in a situation they are unsuited to’…….fishes are at home in water and outside it they suffer….. they don’t venture out !!

Bald Eagle is a bird of prey found in North America. It is found near large bodies of open water with an abundant food supply and old-growth trees for nesting. The Bald Eagle is an opportunistic feeder which subsists mainly on fish, which it swoops down and snatches from the water with its talons. Bald Eagles are not actually bald; the name derives from an older meaning of "white headed". The adult is mainly brown with a white head and tail. The Bald Eagle is both the national bird and national animal of the United States of America. The Bald Eagle appears on its Seal.

Flights get delayed due to multiple reasons and one heard often is ‘bird strike’ – avian ingestion (when taken by engine); bird hit or bash [bird aircraft strike hazard] – a collision between an airborne animal (usually a bird or bat and the aircraft hull  human-made. Bird strikes are a significant threat to flight safety, and have caused a number of accidents with human casualties even.  Most accidents occur when the bird hits the windscreen or flies into the engines. The majority of bird strikes cause little damage to the aircraft; however the collision is usually fatal to the bird(s) involved.

A bird strike is no rarity ……… but this one is….. the news of US Airforce plane forced to abort take-off, due to a fish…. Smells a fish ? 

Newspaper reports suggest that a U.S. Air Force jet was forced to abort its take-off after it hit a fish as the plane made its way down the runway. Officials from the MacDill Air Force Base, near Tampa, Florida, are quoted as saying that the Gulfstream G-IV jet was just about to take-off when the collision between the plane and the sheepshead fish occurred. The crew was forced to abort the take off when they heard a thud after seeing an Osprey fly in front of the aircraft just moments before, Lt. Cmdr. Nicholas Toth, a pilot with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has said.

With the advanced navigation systems in place, pilots are not unduly perturbed by normal take-offs and landings – though there could still be some concern for birds and other stray animals that could run on the tarmac ….but none would dread or imagine a fish ! ~ this plane did hit something … which is reportedly a big fish carried by a bald eagle and which was dropped on by the bird.  The takeoff  had to be aborted, and as the crew checked the runway for the bird -  all they found was a fish; specifically, a 9-inch sheepshead. They took a sample of the smudge on the plane and sent the fish and the sample off for testing. Sure enough, the DNA from the smudge matched that of the fish.

The pilot was still not able to believe that his aircraft had indeed struck a fish on air.  Putting the story together – birds eat fish; perhaps carried it too far and fearing the approaching aircraft, dead dropped it …… jungle law of smaller bird fearing a bigger bird, leaving its prey !!  According to some statistics, there have been wide variety of hits including different birds, deer, dog, monkeys, coyotes, bats and……….. more …. Still a fish is rarer.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

11th Mar 2014.

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