Bird Strikes an Uncommon Airport Hazard

Bird strikes aren't a common event at the Sheridan County Airport, but they do happen.

There was one at the airport last week, according to Airport Manager John Stopka, when a couple of birds flew into a Denver Air Connection plane as the pilot was preparing to take off.

Stopka said there's been no real bad damage to aircraft from bird strikes so far. He said about a month ago, two sandhill cranes flew into a plane, and that's even more of a rarity.

He said both cranes were killed in that incident, and the strike caused about $5,000 in damage to the plane, but no people were hurt. He said bird strikes are part of aviation, and the airport crew works to minimize such incidents.

Stopka said there is wildlife in abundance at the airport, including birds, deer, elk, black bear, mountain lions, coyotes, foxes. He said airport crew dealt with a coyote Monday and with a badger at the airport Tuesday morning. He said one thing that makes the area attractive to wildlife is that there aren't a lot of people around, so the animals are fairly safe.

He said the problems arise when the wildlife gets inside the airport operations fence, because they then become hazardous to aircraft operations. Stopka said the airport carries federal permits so it can deal with birds and waterfowl and state permits that allow personnel to deal with the large game.

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