View Full Version : Cows can't fly...

09-23-2005, 04:00 AM
This one ain't a joke... or is it? Culled it from one of our local newspapers. Cut off the lengthy bits, but kept the main points. Just to show that life around here is not boring...

It was in the early hours of Wednesday, July 7, at precisely 4.30am. The place was Port Harcourt, the main crude oil center in Nigeria.

On its way from Paris, the Air-France Airbus 330 lowered its huge and bulky frame like an eagle about to perch, not on a branch of a tree or on a rugged mountain, but negotiating a touchdown at the Port Harcourt International Airport after hours of a smooth flight, across seas and large swaths of land.

As it approached the runway, with the front parts of the big bird raised up, and as its rear parts was lowered for its big rear tyres to land on the tarmac, the pilot, Mr. Cambus Patrick, had no idea he was landing, not exactly on a regular tarmac but on a herd of fifty cows.

There was a crash of sounds emanating from the violent impact of steel, bloated and heavy tyres with the sturdy and rugged bones and muscles of heavy and strong animals followed by intermittent clap of sounds like the roar of distant thunder.

Seven of the fifty cows died immediately and for a moment, the Airbus 330 veered slightly, over a considerable distance at that frightening speed, from the runway.

The twenty years of flying experience by Mr. Patrick was brought to bear on those crucial seconds and he was able to bring the big bird fully on its course on the runway and eventually to a successful landing.

Nigerians were outraged at the incident, saying they felt scandalized that cows could be roaming, at night, the tarmac of one of the top international airports in the country.

The Minister of Aviation, Mallam Isa Yuguda stated that "The International Airport Port Harcourt here, as you are all aware, is a very good airport but needs improvement..."

The minister’s order for cows found on the runway to be shot at sight was immediately put to test. About 400 metres from the Government Lounge of the airport where he was addressing newsmen, two cows were lying on the ground. They had been shot dead by airport security men. And one could observe during the inspection exercise at the airport that one of the dead cows was being skinned …… Perhaps, whoever was skinning the robust cow got wind that the Minister of Aviation was in the premises and hurriedly left his "post mortem" to continue the exercise immediately a whistle is blown that Yuguda had left Port Harcourt.

Asked if it will be out of place for the cattle rearers to pay compensation to Air-France, the minister said: "I may not be able to answer this question because in the first instance I don't even know the cost of repairing the aircraft. It may take probably 200 to 300 cattle and I don’’t know if about 300 cattle can be found around here. Maybe you know better than me. Secondly, the animals that are being reared by this people are for your own benefit and my own benefit because we are the people who eat the meat, so if you scare then away and make it impossible for them to have pasture and feed the animals well to have very good meat for you to eat, you have yet another problem of protein deficiency. So the whole idea of getting them to pay for it…………"

The minister assured that as soon as funds were made available, the perimeter fence would be put in place and also explained that any official found culpable in the mishap would be sanctioned.

He commended the pilot of the Airbus, saying "There was no accident because there was no carelessness on the part of the pilot. The pilot must be one of the most experienced pilots on the Air France fleet for him to have successfully maneuvered the aircraft, you know, he got the aircraft back to the tarmac without running into the bush and without any panic or injury because I heard from Air France that the landing and control of the aircraft was such that, the passengers never knew that something happened. Only that some of them did comment that the pilot had a very rough landing..."

09-23-2005, 09:35 AM
We use, but don't always "own" the runway. Big airports or small... stuff happens.

Several years ago in Gonzales, LA I returned from a local flight about dusk and found evidence of an earlier cattle herd trespass on the runway. We didn't recognize the fresh cow pies in time to avoid them all. The local cattle had discovered a hole in the airport fencing and headed for greener pastures.

Our bunch got a few chuckles out the Cub's new adornments and offered plenty of "supervision" while I gave the Cub a bath.

Then there was the time a large coyote appeared in the landing lights during a night raging snow storm. The nose gear had just touched when we saw him on the runway centerline. His survival was confirmed during the taxi back. Don't know how we missed him but we did.

09-23-2005, 09:47 AM
3 years ago at Astoria on the coast here in Oregon I was warned of aprox 70 elk on the runway. Sure enough was more like 90 and had to land on the other runaway. made a low pass first and they were not even interested. about 2 years ago at the same airport a citation hit one and skidded off the end of the runway in flames.

Steve Pierce
09-23-2005, 01:46 PM
A Chinese fishing boat crew got jailed after their boat sunk. They said a cow fell out of the sky and sunk it. A short time latter the Russians sent an apology to the Chinese. Seems a Russian cargo crew thought it would funny to load a cow in the cargo bay. It good rowdy and they dumped it out the back.

09-23-2005, 02:39 PM
Cows falling out the sky! :o

09-23-2005, 06:08 PM
Ten years ago, Elmendorf Air force Base here in Anchorage had an AWACS fly into a flight of geese just after rotation that ruined 2 or more engines and resulted in the catastrophic loss of the AC and ten or twelve crew.

It was ugly.

On the ground or in the air wildlife is a real hazard to any aircraft.

Air France was very lucky. They could have as easily run into the cows on departure roll. The results would probably have been very different.


Marc Olson
09-23-2005, 08:37 PM
I had my first bird strike two weeks back. Fortunately it was a small one and not through the windshield. Mikey was kind enough to clean the guts off the trailing edge while I was changing the oil in 64M.

Makes one look sharp when down low along a river. I wonder if there's any prescriptive way to see and avoid the smaller ones.

Steve Pierce
09-23-2005, 09:30 PM
My Dad flew in Super Connies back in the 1950's from Midway to the Aleutians. They hit a lot of goonie birds. He tells of leaving Midway with shorts on under his flight suit and getting to the Aleutians and having to dig cooked goonie bird out of an engine. :x

Cajun Joe
09-23-2005, 10:34 PM
Thanks Kano for the great story. I worked in Warri for 4 years in '71 and my delight was to read the news paper each day as the prose style and descriptive phrases were always a joy as the writers obviously prided themselves in their love of their mastery of English. I left some very dear friends there and think of them often.
"One Nigeria"

Greg Smith
12-20-2005, 06:07 PM
Mikey was kind enough to clean the guts off the trailing edge...

Better watch out... People are gonna start making fun of your blazing speed. How embarrassing to have a bird smack your trailing edge! :wink:

12-21-2005, 12:03 AM
The dirt strip I regularly drop in at in Wyo defines a nice mile long boundary between a long, sage covered, rocky ridge and a rich, green, irrigated alfalfa hay meadow. The antelope on the meadow don't seem to mind the buzzing over the runway, but let a guy hang out the flaps and roll the tires... the prairie goats get all kinds of nervous and start the race for the ridge. I've had race right under the plane on short final and right in front of the prop as I rolled out. Makes me nervous every time I see them feeding out there.

Greg Smith
12-21-2005, 02:56 PM
Eject! Eject! Eject!


You can see the bird just before impact. Listen to the pilot... Talk about cool under pressure! I don't think I'd be that calm. if you heard me on the radio I would probably sound like Mickey Mouse yelling MAYDAY!

01-28-2006, 02:30 PM
I hit a goose at 250 knots 5000 ft at night just in front of the windshield in a Cessna Citation III. It caused a small dent and a mess on the windshield.
I called my boss and told him that I had some bad news and some good news. The bad news was that I hit a goose, the good news was it didnt go thru the engine.

01-28-2006, 06:23 PM
I did a low pass one evening at a private strip for deer, came around and landed. I turned the airplane around to back taxi and "poof", out came 5 deer crossing the runway. While I was stopped the last one turned and ran in to my prop. Cut him in half in an instant.
30K later I was back in the air. You never know!!!

01-28-2006, 08:52 PM
Many years ago, landed at Hilo Int. for fuel and lunch. A Tigers DC-8 63 landed with a whole bunch of Santa Gertrudis cattle and registered quarter horses, from the King Ranch direct to the Parker Ranch.

The Paneolos (Hawaiian for "sorta cowboys") told the crew to "turn em loose". The crew, after positioning the ramp, did precisely that.

The cows descended the ramp, and immediately started following the suggestions of the Paneolos. Last, but certainly not least, the quarter horses descended the ramp. These were somewhat hormone laden beasts having just suffered the ultimate insult of having been cooped up in an aluminum tube for many hours with a herd of cows, fer cryin out loud.

Mayhem ensued. Quarter horses immediately started taking revenge upon the subject cows by virtue of herding the holy hey out of them, so to speak. The Paneolos, somewhat out of their element in trying to keep up with Texas trained cutting horses, sort of just watched from the sidelines.

We called for taxi clearance, and were told, VERY tersely, by the ground controller to taxi back to the terminal and wait for further instructions, conveyed over the loudspeaker.

We waited for an hour and a half or so, and eventually received the call to saddle up.

We taxied to the end of the active, and switched to tower freq.

Now, you have to understand that a number of airliners bound for Hilo had been holding for a while, with little explanation other than that the runway was closed at Hilo.

A (airline unnamed) DC 8 approached on the ILS as we awaited at the hold bars. On short final, the pilot called the tower and asked "Hilo Tower, what is that on the runway?". Tower replied, very tersely: "Airline flight 001, It's cowshit, OKAY??? So just land the dang thing."

It took us a while to even think about the maintenance guys wondering what they were cleaning off that airplane, and where the pilots found it.


Bill Ingerson
01-28-2006, 11:09 PM
Poor old Cows

I worked late tonight and ordered another BigMack at McDonalds, while day dreaming about cubs and taking a big bite at the same time it dawned on me ! I wounder how many cows Ive eaten in my life time ? Probably a herd or two, ever think about that ? Guess Im just trying to cut down on the airport cow crashes.

-12 Flyer
01-29-2006, 04:22 AM

The crew of Yukla 27 had 24 crew members that all perished in that tragic accident.