Showing posts from January, 2014

Strike out!

  ONE of the scarier videos on YouTube was recorded by the nose-cone camera of a fighter jet as it was taking off. Just after the plane leaves the runway a large bird comes hurtling towards it and vanishes into the aircraft’s engine. The pilot spends an agonising 30 seconds or so trying to regain control, before issuing the order to eject, after which the viewer is treated to a shot of the onrushing ground before the screen goes blank. Bird strikes are a problem—sometimes a fatal one—for military and civil aviation alike. America’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reports that there are about 10,000 such strikes a year to the country’s non-military aircraft, costing more than $957m in damage and delays. The worldwide figure is estimated by the European Space Agency to be $1.2 billion. Moreover, though relatively few people have been killed in accidents caused by bird strikes (research by John Thorpe, former chairman of the International Bird Strike Committee, recorded 242