Birds Force Plane Landing In Gulfport

When planes take-off at the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport, there's a chance a bird may get in the way.

Don Green is an Airport Operations Supervisor. He said "This is the time where they got fledglings that are learning how to fly. They're teaching their fledglings to do that, and so we got a good number of species of birds around the airport".

While bird-plane collisions are rare, they do happen, like the incident Sunday morning, when two birds forced a pilot to land his plane.

Jim Tolson was the Operations Supervisor on duty that day. He said "The pilot inspected his aircraft and he showed me two locations. One on the radome of the aircraft, where the bird had struck, and one down in the wheel well".

Noisemakers, like two Propane Cannons, help chase the birds away. The devices fire a loud bang every few minutes. Another method is a starter pistol.

Green said "We have a little starter-type pistol that shoots out a screamer shell that scares the birds and they'll fly off".

The operations crew also uses sirens on their trucks to startle the birds.

Green said "The main times that we have airlines coming in, we're going to be out there trying to harass the birds. We're trying to make sure the airfield is clear of birds".

Clearing the runway helps keep the planes, pilots and passengers safe. Green said "We realize there is a risk to a bird strike. That's why we're out there everyday, trying to make sure the birds are scattered, and off the runway safety areas".

The airport is conducting a Wildlife Hazard Assessment Study to determine what kind of birds or animals live around the runways. The results should be ready by March of next year.