“Miracle on the Hudson” image by Greg L./Wikimedia Commons

“Any improvement on bird detection and bird warning would be welcomed.” So says Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, from the infamous “Miracle on the Hudson” flight, about strategies to make air travel safer. As you might recall, upon takeoff from LaGuardia Airport in New York in January 2009, Sullenberger’s plane collided with a flock of migratory Canada Geese and was forced to ditch in the Hudson River. (The only fatalities were to the geese.)

Sullenberger is just one of a number of aviation experts quoted in a new National Geographic article, “Bloody Skies: The Fight to Reduce Deadly Bird-Plane Collisions.” (Note: You’ll need to register for free to read it.) It’s penned by the same author of a recent New York Times op-ed on the same subject, which we previously mentioned here.

Among the points the National Geographic article makes are that culling birds near airports may do little to solve the problem of birdstrikes, and that radar systems which detect birds in airplanes’ flight paths might be a worthwhile alternative, although the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Federal Aviation Administration argue that such systems aren’t yet ready for prime time. Until an effective strategy (or strategies) is adopted by the aviation community, Sullenberger warns, “What happened to us could happen again tomorrow.”

Written by Meredith Mann
The lowly Red-winged Blackbirds in suburban New York triggered Meredith Mann's interest in birds. Five years later, she's explored some of the the USA's coolest hotspots, from Plum Island in Massachusetts to the Magic Hedge in Chicago to the deserts of Fallon, Nevada. She recently migrated from the Windy City (where she proudly served as a Chicago Bird Collision Monitor, rescuing migrants from skyscrapers and sidewalks) to Philadelphia, where she plans to find new editing and writing gigs; keep up her cool-finds chronicle, Blog5B; and discover which cheesesteak really is the best. And she will accept any and all invitations to bird Cape May, NJ.