Editor, Daily Nexus,
In Monday’s excellent article about bird hazards at the Santa Barbara Airport (“Slough Draws FAA Study”), Tiye Baldwin wrote that bird strikes “usually only cause scratches on the aircraft involved.” Alas, the damage can be far more severe.
As a longtime Santa Barbara pilot, I have seen several airplanes that have been damaged substantially by bird strikes. One friend had a bird impact the front of his wing, making a foot-deep dent that made the airplane extremely difficult to land safely. Another friend had a bird smash into his airplane’s windshield, sending the heavy, windshield-mounted compass flying into the cockpit. The compass missed my friend’s head by inches.
Birds also pose a significant hazard to large airplanes. This past Saturday, a United Airlines Boeing 767 taking off from Boston had a complete failure of its right engine after the engine ingested several birds. The crew brought the airplane back safely, but you can imagine the consequences if both engines had failed.
I commend the Santa Barbara Airport Administration for its effort to find a solution to the bird strike problem that is also sensitive to the needs of our treasured environment.