Handling a Bird Strike

** (John Benson via Wikipedia Creative Commons)**

There's usually not much time to react before a bird strike, as was vividly demonstrated in the dramatic video of a bird crashing the through the windshield of a Piper Saratoga last week. But the pilot in this incident reacted just as all pilots should, by maintaining control of the airplane, assessing the damage and weighing the alternatives. In this case, landing back at home base made sense.

Any pilot who has been flying for very long has had near misses and even the occasional bird strike. I very nearly captured a bird strike on camera a week ago while flying with a Garmin Virb camera. Luckily, the hawk veered at the last moment and went just over my right wing.

If you do have time to react, one consideration is that birds will almost always turn and dive at the last instant. So it behooves you, if you are going to make any control input at all, to try to put yourself above a bird when on a collision course.

In most cases you won't have time to react. If a bird has come crashing through the windshield and hit you in the face, turning on the autopilot while you regain your vision could save the day.

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