Bird Strikes

by Dr. Richard Stimson

in Famous Wright Airplane Flights

A bird strike is what forced the US Airways Flight 1249 to crash land in the icy Hudson River. Fortunately, a skillful pilot managed to land the plane safely in the river and all 155 passengers survived.

Bird Strikes have been a known and common hazard since the Wright brothers started flying. The first recorded bird strike occurred while Wilbur Wright was flying over Huffman Prairie in Dayton in 1905.

In his diary, written on September 7, 1905, he recorded, “Twice passed over fences into Bread’s cornfield. Chased flocks of birds on two rounds and killed one which fell on top of upper surface and after a time fell off when swinging a sharp curve.”

The earliest known fatal airplane crash involving a bird took place in 1912. The plane, a Wright Model EX, which was a single-seat exhibition model version of a 1911 Wright Model B, flown by Wright trained Calbraith Perry Rodgers.

Rodgers was the first pilot to fly across country on a flight from Long Island, NY, to Long Beach, Calif. He flew over 4,321 miles with 70 landings (many crashes).

Rodgers was killed shortly after his transcontinental flight while testing a new engine. He ran into a flock of sea gulls, hit them and plunged into the surf some 500 feet from the spot where he had landed in triumph five months earlier. The engine, which had broken loose, and struck Rodgers in the back of his head, breaking his neck.

Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton, where the Huffman Prairie Flying Field is located, reports that the base’s airplanes go through some 10 to 12 substantial bird strikes a year. However, not since 2005 has a collision resulted in a failed engine.

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