Tallahassee airport saw seven bird strikes over past year

Published: Jan. 15, 2019 at 11:56 PM EST
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By: Katie Kaplan | WCTV Eyewitness News

January 16, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Ten years ago Tuesday, a commercial pilot safely landed an aircraft in New York's Hudson River, an event now known as the 'Miracle on the Hudson.'

Aviation enthusiasts honored the date in Tallahassee. A gathering near the airport included a guest speaker, a viewing of a segment of the Oscar-nominated movie based on the event and a discussion on the ordeal.

"There wasn't a whole lot of time for them to think and they still got it down and everyone survived," said David Brookins, Chief Master Sergeant of the Civil Air Patrol Group Tallahassee Squadron.

Attendees included people like Brookins, who aspires to be captain of the cockpit, and Troy Avera, who once was.

"I've flown for Air Florida, Midway and United Airlines," Avera said.

Avera also flew in the Air Force for many years outside of his commercial experience. He said in that time, he had at least two experiences with bird strikes.

"It put dents in the leading edge of the wings," he said of one instance.

It is a threat that Tallahassee International Airport does its best to mitigate, said interim Aviation Director David Pollard.

"We have people out there very day," he said. "At least three times a day, that are checking our runways."

Pollard said the airport has an active Wildlife Hazard Management Plan for not only birds, but all wildlife species.

"We worked with the FAA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to assess the needs," he said. "We manage the height of grass to six to 10 inches to help manage the bird population near the airport."

The plan also includes a specialized fence with a concrete footer to keep out animals that could dig under the fence, and extra height to keep out animals that can jump over it.

According to the FAA, there were seven bird strikes that happened at Tallahassee International Airport between January 15, 2018 and January 15, 2019. None of them were reported to have caused damage to the aircraft engines. Pollard said that is usually the case. He added that after every instance, the aircraft is inspected by a mechanic and has to be cleared before it is used again.