Yes, it happened! An Airlink aircraft collided with Africa’s heaviest flying bird, snapping off a propeller blade and sending it hurtling into the cabin.
The crew and passengers on this charter flight from Johannesburg to Limpopo had a lucky escape.
The airline said in a statement that an Airlink Jetstream 41 aircraft operating a private charter flight struck a large bird upon landing at Venetia airfield.
The incident happened on Monday.
The large bird, believed to be a kori bustard, flew into the right-hand propeller. The Kori Bustard is Africa’s heaviest flying bird. A large male can weigh as much as 19kg and have a wingspan of 275cm.
“None of the passengers or crew were injured, although the aircraft sustained substantial damage.
“In compliance with aviation protocols and regulations, the occurrence was reported to the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA), which will conduct an investigation,” it said.
Airlink furthermore said the damaged aircraft remains at Venetia airfield pending the SACAA’s inspection and a full damage assessment.
Photos from inside the aircraft show splinters of wood strewn across the floor.
The blade luckily landed in an area of the cabin which was unoccupied.
Bits of the propeller embedded in a seat and fragments scattered on the aircraft floor can be seen in the photos. The blade gouged a hole in the fuselage and broke a cabin window.
Bird strikes have been an all-too-common occurrence since the dawn of aviation.