Jet Makes Return to St. Louis After Bird Strike

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BRIDGETON, MO. (KTVI) - Planes sharing airspace with birds can lead to problems and on Monday a flight leaving Lambert Airport ran into just that.

Birds were sucked into an engine leading the pilot to return to Lambert as a precaution.

A statement from American indicated there was, "No emergency."  The plane was inspected and after a delay of about an hour it headed to its destination in Chicago.

Aviation expert Mel Burkart says approximately 290 people have died as the result of birds striking planes.

The retired international pilot had his own close call flying over Iowa.

"We took a 9-pound Canadian goose right in the windshield," said Burkart.  "It shattered the windshield, knocked out all the instrument lights and broke the vacuum system that ran the instruments."

Burkart says bird strikes happen routinely.  He adds that a vast majority do little harm.  He compared them to flies hitting the windshield of a car.

What some now call the Hudson miracle in January of 2009 was a rare example of a plane completely disabled from a flock of geese sucked through the engines.

Lambert Airport spokesman Jeff Lea says the airport as a migration mitigation plan in place to try and reduce the risk of danger around the airport.

Burkart says most strikes happen approximately 3,000 feet in the air during landing or take-off.

He puts the cost of damage from bird strikes at $600 million a year for the airlines and military.