Facts About Aircraft Bird Strikes

UH-60 after a bird strike
UH-60 after a bird strike. DOD
  • It's believed that the first reported bird strike on record was recorded by Orville Wright in 1905. According to Wrightstories.com, Orville wrote in his journal on September 7, 1905:  “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 first fatality caused by a bird strike is said to have happened in 1912 in a  Wright Model EX flown by Calbraith Perry Rodgers. It's said that Rodgers crashed the airplane after hitting a flock of seagulls.

  • According to the FAA, most (63 percent) of bird strikes occur during the day.

  • Most bird strikes occur between the months of July and October.

  • The most fatal bird strike accident in history was Eastern Airlines 375, which crashed in 1960 after a flock of European Starlings damaged all four engines. Sixty-two people died.

  • Engines are the most often hit and damaged when a bird strike occurs. 

  • Pilots who encounter a bird strike can collect part of the bird remains and send them into a lab for analysis and identification to help further bird strike research. In 2009, about 9,000 birds were identified by the Smithsonian Institute’s Feather and DNA Identification Lab.

  • Gulls are the most common birds involved in bird strike incidents.

  • Bird strikes cost the aviation industry about $900 million each year.

  • In 2013, about 11,300 bird and wildlife strikes occurred in the United States.

  • According to Bird Strike Committee USA, a 12-lb Canada goose struck by a150-mph aircraft at lift-off generates the kinetic energy of a 1,000-lb weight dropped from a height of 10 feet.

  • Airports like SEA/TAC have introduced bees as a method of keeping large birds away.

  • Tall grass might be a natural bird repellant, as well. Dayton International Airport planted tall prairie grass on 300 acres of the airport land in order to try to deter birds.

  • Bird populations continue to increase in North America. Many species are protected. The Canada goose population increased from one million in 1990 to over 3.5 million in 2006.