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Bird Strikes in Baton Rouge Area?

Monday, February 16, 2009 - 6:51pm

How likely is a bird strike in the Baton Rouge area and have there been bird strikes in our area?

There’ve been multiple bird strikes in our area. The incidents have forced emergency landings, but so far, no one has been hurt in our area. Louisiana is home to migrating ducks and geese, so there’s certainly a risk here.

A plane that hits a bird isn’t necessarily going down, but it’s not good news. Mickey Marchand, owner of Aviation Specialists Inc. in Gonzales, says, “The birds are out there by the thousands. We encounter them on take off, while flying, and while we’re landing.” Marchand has been flying since the early 1970s and teaching pilots for 35 years. “I teach all students to be on the lookout for birds: see and avoid is the primary principle for general aviation.”

But sometimes, avoiding a bird just isn’t possible. It’s not only planes at risk. Just last month, south of Gonzales, a helicopter crossed paths with a bird. “They encountered a bird. IT busted the windshield of the helicopter, forced them to do a precaution, landing in a field about five miles south of the airport here in Gonzales.”

One of Marchand’s business partners hit a bird just east of Baton Rouge and even though everyone was okay, it was a costly accident. “Put a big dent in the wing. Didn’t damage the plane other than the repair work.”

Marchand says pilots are trained to seek and avoid birds and with all the birds in South Louisiana, he says pilots are always trying to keep an eye out for birds as far as a mile away.

So, not only are bird strikes possible in Louisiana, they happen relatively frequently. Luckily there haven’t been any crashes as a result.