RAFairman's Blog

An RAF Airman's Blog

It’s not always pretty…

Here’s another one that was a request from Twitter…*

Bird Strike.

It’s not a good thing.  In fact it’s one of the very worst things.  A bird strike is when an aircraft and a bird collide – either on the ground or in the air. The very worst sort of bird strike is an “injestion” where a bird gets sucked into the jet engine, or a close second is a “cockpit breech” where the bird strikes the windscreen of the aircraft and goes into the cockpit.  (Some of the latter of these are quite horrendous to see pictures of.)

My bird strike story is not so dramatic. But it was fairly gross, and is an example of some of the less glamourous stuff that we can do in the Royal Air Force.

Again it was when I was back on 29F(Sqn) and we were on a trip away for a short detachment to Spain – near to Seville actually.  One of the jets called in on the way back to the base after a sortie saying that it had suffered a bird strike.  And it was the jet that I was servicing…

We all went out to watch it land, and from the distance we could see no damage, which was a real relief, and I went out to see the jet in and do the servicing.  We began to think that the pilot had got it wrong and the bird had not hit, but rather it had been a near miss.

As I marshalled it into the parking slot though, it became clear that there had indeed been a strike, although the damage was minimal…

What had happened was that the bird – some sort of big gul – had hit the  windscreen of the Tornado F3 with a glancing blow and it had splattered all the way up the screen, and then had smeared itself up over the canopy.  From here it had got caught in the air stream over the jet and had been dragged over the top of the fuselage.  Halfway down the upper fuselage were the Homer Lobe aerials – two antenna that stuck out upwards for about 8-10″ high. The bird had hit the aerials, leaving a lot of debris behind, before it had been sucked into an Intercooler intake.

Where it had got stuck.

It was quite clearly very, very dead. What was left of it.

And it was my job to get it out and to clear it up.  And it wasn’t nice.  The memory of trying to wash and wipe the blood and the guts of the bird of the windscreen will stay with me forever…and the smell of the slightly cooked birds remains, as I pulled the various bits of it out of the Intercooler intake, will live with me for a long time.

At times, it’s a glamourous life in the RAF.  But never a dull one.

*I think the requester was after something else, but this is what I got 😉

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