A Minnesota airplane collision that went unnoticed

While there is well-deserved attention on the Superior, Wis., near-calamity involving two planes full of of parachutists, some close calls go unnoticed.

Here’s one. The National Transportation Safety Board has closed its investigation into an emergency landing in Princeton, Minn., in September. The NTSB says a student pilot was practicing near the airport when the plane was hit by a bald eagle.

The 31-year-old flight instructor took the controls and although the rudder appeared to be damaged and control was difficult, the pair landed safely.

How close was the close call? This is what it looked like.


The force of the impact from the bird, which left some feathers behind, was enough to rip rivets out of the skin on the leading edge of the horizontal stabilizer. Had it done so completely, it would have been very difficult to retain control of the aircraft.

Last year, according to the NTSB, there were 11,000 incidents with bird strikes on airplanes.