"Bird vs Plane: Miracle on the Hudson" Investigates the Everyday Threat of Disastrous Bird Strikes

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13 January 2019
Bird vs Plane
Courtesy of Smithsonian Channel
"Bird vs Plane: Miracle on the Hudson"
Premieres, Tuesday, January 15 at 9PM ET/PT on Smithsonian Channel
          On the 10th anniversary of US Airways Flight 1549’s miraculous landing on the Hudson River, Smithsonian Channel revisits the event to explore the impact of bird strikes in aviation accidents around the world. In the United States alone, thousands of aviation bird strikes happen annually, with an uptick in reporting during the winter migration; this was the case during the mid-January miracle on the Hudson in 2009.
          Featuring first-person accounts from survivors and flight safety experts working to reduce collisions, as well as leading scientists in the field of forensic ornithology, BIRD VS. PLANE: MIRACLE ON THE HUDSON examines commercial and military air accidents, investigates the roles different bird species play in these events and highlights groundbreaking work to prevent future occurrences. 

          While the miracle on the Hudson made headlines around the world and created a national hero in US Airways Captain Chesley Sullenberger, bird strikes are actually an everyday reality in skies across the country. On average, there are 40 civil aviation bird strikes in the United States each day, with over 500 species of birds involved in such incidents to date.
          Unbeknownst to much of the nation, a unique coalition of biologists and flight safety experts closely studies bird movements around airports and in-flight paths, sharing knowledge and technology to mitigate threats. In addition, the U.S. Military operates its own dedicated program, Bird/Wildlife Aircraft Hazard, or BASH, to address the conflict between military aircraft and bird species since military flights account for nearly a third of all reported bird strike incidents in the United States.
Bird vs Plane
Photo: Chip Clark, Smithsonian
          When a strike does occur, Carla Dove, a forensic ornithologist at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, steps in. Dr. Dove is one of the foremost authorities in the field of ornithology and, together with her team, identifies birds involved in more than 10,000 strikes annually. BIRD VS. PLANE: MIRACLE ON THE HUDSON zeroes in on how this work to identify the species involved in such accidents has been instrumental in helping to reduce the number of strikes, even as birds share the skies with more planes than ever before in history. The end goal, Dove says, is to “fight this for birds and for mankind.”


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