Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a potential accident in the making.
Birds may be a fraction of a plane's size but they still carry the potential to wreak havoc on flights and the potential for an accident is on the rise, according to an NBC investigation.
This year, Chicago's O'Hare and Midway International airports reported 103 bird strikes as of June, compared to 331 between the two airports for all of 2012. Across the U.S., pilots reported an average of 6,000 aircraft collisions with birds and other wildlife.
Damage to aircrafts varies depending on the size and number of birds and often isn't severe, with the bulk of the damage resulting in dents and dings to the body. But when a plane suffers a bird strike to the windshield, or engine, things get bad, according to a study by Bird-X Inc, a pest control company.
"Striking just one bird can dent a plane’s wings and nose, break the wind shield and destroy vital engine parts, leading to loss of power and control. Small planes often crash after hitting a single bird; collision with a flock may cause disaster for even the largest and most powerful passenger or military aircraft," said the company in a release.
The end of summer and early fall transition period marks one of the riskier times for bird strikes, according to 2008 data from the University of Illinois. The numbers suggest migration season, which has millions of birds flying to warmer climates, could play a role to increased strikes.
Bird strike watchdogs, like Birdstrike Control program, say that airports are too reactive in their stance, rather than being proactive with prevention measures. Canadian airports, on the other hand, have turned to other birds to keep the skies near airports bird-free.
At Pearson International, airport staff members have enlisted falcons, hawks and an eagle to frighten off nearby birds from landing in a plane's turbines, notes the Toronto Star.
Winnipeg's Richardson Airport takes a more technical approach, using air canons on a fire truck to ward off wildlife, like geese from nearby planes, according to Global News.
In 2009, a US Airways jet crash landed in New York's Hudson river after striking a flock of Canadian geese and losing engine power.
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It's a good idea to wait until everyone's fully seated on the plane before getting intoxicated. <a href="http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/story/2012/08/21/calgary-oil-executive-flight-disruption.html" target="_hplink">Justin Neil Frank, a 35-year-old Calgary man was arrested after forcing an Air Canada flight from London to Calgary back in August.</a> CBC reports Frank was drunk when he boarded the plane and kept drinking throughout — that is, when he wasn't walking down the aisles claiming to be an oil executive (he works as a rig service electrician). He was later tied down to his seat with duct tape and straps and arrested by the RCMP when the flight landed in Edmonton.
In late August, a United Airlines flight en route to Geneva, Switzerland from Newark, New Jersey was forced to divert in Boston because of an... ordinary camera. Well, to be fair, police and airline crew thought the unclaimed camera could potentially be a bomb, which is <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/07/flight-diverted-over-unclaimed-camera/" target="_hplink">why the 169 people on board had to be removed from the plane</a> while bomb technicians disposed of the camera.
A Bad Joke
The most recent restriction to flying has been the limitation of liquids, gels and aerosols to containers no greater than 100 ml or 100 grams. Combine this with a prank call and you've got the fixings for a bomb scare. Last September, a passenger was victim of a bomb hoax when someone called <a href="http://travel.usatoday.com/flights/story/2012-09-06/Philadelphia-to-Dallas-flight-returns-to-airport/57629992/1" target="_hplink">police at Philadelphia International Airport informing them that a passenger was "carrying a dangerous substance"</a>, as reported by USA Today. The passenger's name matched with someone on board a flight bound to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. The plane was forced to return to Philadelphia where police arrested the passenger, only to release him after realizing he had done nothing wrong.
A Prayer Box
Back in January of 2010, a US Airways flight leaving New York and heading to Louisville, Kentucky had to divert to Philadelphia due to a misunderstanding over a teenager's prayer box. The 17-year-old Jewish boy was flying with his sister when he started using his <a href="http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,583542,00.html" target="_hplink">tefillin, a set of small black boxes containing biblical passages that are attached to leather straps, attaching one box to his head and the other to his arm</a>, according to Fox News. Crew members of the flight questioned the boy but weren't able to get a "clear response" and asked the plane to turn back to Philadelphia for a more thorough investigation.
What can only be interpreted as a big misunderstanding is also the reason why a partially blind 86-year-old-man caused a Spirit Airlines flight from California to Florida to be diverted to Houston back in July. The man, who <a href="http://www.canada.com/health/Police+Partially+blind+scared+unruly+aboard+Spirit+flight+diverted/6905688/story.html" target="_hplink">only spoke French, became unruly and started swinging at passengers because he was "scared,"</a> reports Canada.com
Medical Help From Obama
Back in May, a French woman managed to divert a US Airways flight from Paris to North Carolina after claiming she had been surgically implanted with a device. Flight 787 landed in Bangor International Airport unexpectedly after Lucie Zeeko Marigot, 41, said <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/23/us-airways-flight-diverte_n_1539618.html" target="_hplink">she had something inside of her that was "out of control" and was travelling to the U.S. to seek medical help from President Barack Obama and the American people</a>. Marigot was never charged by U.S. authorities but was sent back to France, according to U.S. Attorney, Thomas Delahanty II.
Flight Attendant Squabble
What was supposed to be a normal flight from North Carolina to Chicago resulted in a diversion after a fight broke out between two flight attendants on board a United Airlines plane. Raleigh-Durham International Airport <a href="http://www.news.com.au/travel/news/flight-attendant-tiff-forces-plane-diversion-again/story-e6frfq80-1226482329909" target="_hplink">received an early morning call from the pilot of Flight 1214, saying that there was an assault on board</a>, according to News.com, when it was actually a verbal argument between two stewards. When the plane returned to North Carolina, the attendants were removed and the plane was restaffed.