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Aircraft hits bird and bull on landing

Damaged Mooney aircraft

Pilots are being urged to watch for wildlife hazards around the runway after an aircraft was substantially damaged from hitting a large bird and a bull.

On 24 March 2013, a Mooney M20J was about to land at Hedlow aeroplane landing area in Queensland.

Just before landing, one of the passengers pointed out two large birds that had taken flight from the long grass near the runway. The pilot then saw a ‘flash’ to the right of the aircraft and initiated a go-around.  One of the birds struck the left wing of the aircraft and the pilot reported that the aircraft yawed slightly left and the left wing dropped.

As the pilot reached over to raise the landing gear lever, the aircraft’s left wing struck a bull.

After regaining control and checking the instruments in the cockpit, the pilot looked outside again and noticed the aircraft had drifted to the right of the runway into an adjacent paddock. As the pilot reached over to raise the landing gear lever, the aircraft’s left wing struck a bull.

The aircraft then landed in the paddock without injury to the occupants. The aircraft was substantially damaged and the bull was put down due to its injuries.

Following recent rains, the grass surrounding the airstrip had not been mowed and was knee-high. There was also a reasonable amount of low-lying water in the paddock next to the runway.

The pilot was familiar with the airstrip as his plane was hangared there, but observed that even if you are familiar with an airstrip, you should consider conducting a precautionary pass over the runway to alarm animals away from the area.  

The ATSB’s statistical report into wildlife and animal strikes 2002–2011 contains valuable background information for pilots and operators on the incidence of bird and wildlife strikes at Australian airports. Each year there are over 1,500 bird strikes reported.

Read the statistical report Australian aviation wildlife strike statistics: Bird and animal strikes 2002 to 2011

Read the full report of this accident AO-2013-058

Related: Bird Strikes
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Last update 01 February 2017