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Dangerous Birds: The Day Wildlife Almost Brought Down a DC-10


Birds are an often overlooked threat to aircraft everywhere.

On January 5, 2009, US Airways flight 1549 took off from JFK, and was almost immediately attacked by birds. The flight made an emergency landing in the Hudson River, captained by Sully Sullenberger. Passengers and crew were evacuated in lifeboats. The flight became known as “The Miracle on the Hudson”.

Did you know that flight 1549 was not the first example of a flight being brought down by birds though?
On November 12th of 1975, a DC-10 airplane crashed and caught fire at John F. Kennedy airport in New York City. Amazing photos of the 1975 crash were taken by Ken Zask, just minutes after he safely evacuated the plane. It is hard to believe no one was killed in that rejected takeoff that burned the jet to a crisp. All 139 passengers made it out of the plane alive. Brian van Handel from Kansas City, Missouri, was also aboard the 1975 flight. Brian, who once worked for TWA, speaks to reporters in this video about the aborted takeoff.

As it turns out, the air crash of 1975 was also caused by birds. A flock of seagulls had flown into the engine during take off. Quick thinking by the crew avoided disaster. Next time you fly, thank the guys (and gals) upfront. They keep you safe.

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