Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Dozens of animal incidents impact Tulsa International Airport (KTUL)

Quick Facts:

  • Tulsa International Airport had 75 bird strikes from 3/14 to 7/15
  • Incidents also include other animals
  • Airport takes precautions to prevent these issues

Tulsa International Airport officials deal with animal incidents almost daily.

“Wildlife is wildlife. The environment that we have here is ideal for birds for their habitat, and right across the street we also have the park,” said Chuck Hannum, deputy director for Tulsa International Airport.

According to a report from the Federal Aviation Administration obtained by FOX23 the number of birds that have caused trouble at TIA may surprise you.

This report shows between March 2014 to July 2015 there were seven animal related incidents involving every type of plane at TIA, sometimes twice a week.

The report also lists numerous species of birds that have come into contact with planes mid-flight or were pulled out of the sky after flying behind a plane's engines, two even caused emergency landings.

It's not just birds airport officials are dealing with. The report stated at the end of one runway airport officials found the remains of a coyote.

The coyote, according to the report, had head and neck trauma believed to be from a plane that hit it without the pilots even knowing.

“We just felt a tremendous thud. We didn't know what it was,” said Jay Garrett. Owasso pilot at Viking Aviaiton.

Jay Garrett is a Green Country pilot who has experienced a bird strike.

Something hit his plane mid-flight and only after he landed did he find the remains of a crow.

“It's something that is in the back of your mind. It certainly is unexpected when it happens,” said Garrett.

Garrett told FOX23 that he and other pilots train for these moments and even radio each other when animals create issues.

“There are documented cases of that happening where the birds go completely inside the cockpit, and do damage to property and people,” said Garrett.
Garrett was forced to make an emergency landing with his own children inside his plane.

“It would be a lottery type event if you had a catastrophic failure due to a bird strike,” he said.

“We call this one the bird banger because it goes up in the air and pops really loud,” Don Wyatt, Tulsa International Airport Police Department

Don Wyatt is one of those keeping birds and other animals, like coyotes skunks and snapping turtles, out of TIA.

“Some birds go away immediately. Sometimes we have to use two or three. Depending on the bird sometimes we use multiple,” Wyatt said.

From sirens and lights, to small firecracker launchers, to putting anti-nesting spikes on the field and keeping the grass tall, Wyatt has not only been specially trained to scare off animals without harming them-- he has a whole arsenal of tools at his disposal.

But even airport deputy director Chuck Hannum told FOX23 sometimes even that's not good enough.

“After while the birds adapt. That's what wildlife does. They adapt to their surroundings, and we have to keep mixing it up and changing it up so it's always something new,” said Hannum.

Airport officials said they know their planes have to share the sky, they just want to make sure when it comes time for you to fly you don’t have any issues with creatures.

Story and video:  http://www.fox23.com

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