What happens when a bird strikes an aircraft

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Lucas Morrow
  • 914th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron

One of our KC-135 Stratotankers is undergoing detailed engine repair at Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, New York, after a bird strike, while in mid-flight.

  • Last flight of the trip: The aircraft was on its last mission in Prestwick, Scotland, in support of a TACC (Tanker Airlift Control Center) tasking at the 618th Air Operations Center when it struck the bird.
  • Stratotanker makes it home: After the bird strike, our crew chiefs worked with Airmen from Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England, to get the KC-135 airworthy to make it home for long-term repairs.
  • Aerospace propulsion swaps engine: A replacement engine is prepared and installed to keep the KC-135 mission ready so our aircrew can continue training and flying missions.
  • Every part inspected: Aircraft maintenance then has the damaged engine completely pulled apart to inspect and repair any damage the bird caused before it's returned to airworthy status.


These airmen are trained to carefully inspect every crevice of the aircraft to keep it in perfect working order for our mission. Not only to deliver airpower to our allies but to ultimately ensure our aircrew are given a fully-operational machine so they can return home safely to their families.