Pilot Blinded in Bird Strike

Collision caused temporary loss of control.

ATSB Glasair Sportsman GS-2
The Glasair Sportsman GS-2 involved in the incident.Australian Transport Safety Bureau

The pilot of a Glasair Sportsman GS-2 was temporarily blinded after his aircraft took a direct hit from a wedge-tailed eagle at 5,500 feet. Wedge-tailed eagles typically weigh between seven and eight pounds. The incident, reported by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), serves as another reminder of the substantial damage and adverse effects to an aircraft’s performance and handling qualities that can result from a bird strike.

The Glasair was on a VFR flight along Australia’s east-southeast coast from Southport Queensland to Moruya New South Wales when the eagle broke through the left side of the windscreen and struck the pilot, leaving him temporarily blinded and suffering serious facial injuries. The pilot was the only person aboard the aircraft.

Following the strike, the aircraft entered a rapid descent, although the pilot eventually regained control. The pilot did manage to transmit a MAYDAY using his headset’s microphone, although he could not hear any responses. The pilot eventually landed the damaged aircraft safely at Bathurst Airport where his injuries were treated.