NATO Video Captures Czech Pilot's Bird Strike

Fighter pilot Zbyněk Abel’s flight turned potentially disastrous after colliding with a vulture

Dave Park

Written by Dave Park Published on 25.11.2015 16:41:18 (updated on 25.11.2015) Reading time: 1 minute

“Mayday, Mayday, Mayday! I have a Bird strike!” 

During the NATO exercise Trident Juncture in late October, Czech fighter pilot Zbyněk Abel narrowly averted disaster after his L-159 collided with a vulture over Spain.

Despite significant damage to the right wing, the pilot was able to gain control of the plane and safely navigate it to an emergency landing.

Photos of the incident revealed the extent of the damage to the wing. A bird strike, the official term for a plane colliding with airborne animals, is one of the more significant – and common – dangers in flight safety.

Yesterday, NATO published cockpit video from the moment of impact:

How does the pilot feel after coming dangerously close to disaster?

“I just hope that I will not have to pay for it,” Abel joked.

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