John Albrecht
Bald Eagles and Bird Strikes

On September 22, 1995, a fully loaded USAF E-3B AWACS (military version of the Boeing 707) departed Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska on a training flight. The tower air traffic controller observed a flock of geese near the runway but failed to notify the aircrew. At the point of lift-off the aircraft struck at least 31 birds resulting in loss of power from the two left engines. Out of control, the aircraft rolled left and crashed with the loss of all 24 crew. Investigators faulted ATC for not warning the crew, and the crew for lack of concern with a moderate bird-watch condition in effect. In addition, flying operations personnel were blamed for not instituting an aggressive bird management program recommended two months previously when dangers posed by the resident Canada goose population were identified.

8. E-3B AWACS. The USAF has lost only one of these aircraft, and that was due to a bird strike on September 22, 1995 at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska. Photo courtesy Denis Cloutier.
8. E-3B AWACS. The USAF has lost only one of these aircraft, and that was due to a bird strike on September 22, 1995 at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska. Photo courtesy Denis Cloutier.
9. Plate 1. On September 22, 1995, a 4-engine USAF E-3B AWACS crashed 43 seconds after takeoff from Elmendorf AFB, Alaska. The aircraft struck a large flock of Canada Geese that had often been observed in the area. Photo courtesy Transport Canada.
9. Plate 1. On September 22, 1995, a 4-engine USAF E-3B AWACS crashed 43 seconds after takeoff from Elmendorf AFB, Alaska. The aircraft struck a large flock of Canada Geese that had often been observed in the area. Photo courtesy Transport Canada.
10. Plate 2. Canada Geese on the runway shortly after the September 22 AWACS crash. Twenty-four crew members died in the crash. Photo courtesy Transport Canada.
10. Plate 2. Canada Geese on the runway shortly after the September 22 AWACS crash. Twenty-four crew members died in the crash. Photo courtesy Transport Canada.
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