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Westchester Passenger On Plane Hit By Bird: Pilot Did The 'Right Thing'

JFK International Airport ground crew members examine the damage on the nose of JetBlue Flight 671, that hit a flock of birds on Monday morning.
JFK International Airport ground crew members examine the damage on the nose of JetBlue Flight 671, that hit a flock of birds on Monday morning. Photo Credit: Andrew McLean

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Though his flight Friday morning was interrupted by a rogue flock of birds, Andrew McLean of West Harrison is thankful for the pilot of JetBlue Flight 671's quick thinking to make an emergency landing.

The flight, which departed from Westchester County Airport in White Plains around 9:30 a.m. on its way to West Palm Beach, Fla., was airborne for approximately 15 minutes before the strike, and promptly made an emergency landing at John F. Kennedy International Airport with no injuries to the 142 passengers or crew.

McLean said though some people were initially annoyed by the disruption, after seeing the damage to the plane, they realized fortune was on their side. One of the unlucky birds was impaled on the nose of the plane after ripping a nearly 2-foot split in the nose cone.

"I believe if we had continued on with the flight, we would be in a very different and much less optimal situation," he said.

McLean, who was traveling with a group of friends to West Palm Beach for a golf outing, said the pilot's calm demeanor and quick decision making after the initial impact was felt throughout the cabin was instrumental in keeping the full-capacity flight calm.

"After takeoff, we were aware something was going on, because we felt a bit of a shudder in the plane," he said. "After a short time, the pilots came on to announce we had been a victim of air strike by birds coming across the reservoir. They suspected there would be some damage, so they landed the plane."

After the landing, the flight was greeted by a number of firetrucks. The plane was rushed into a gate and the passengers deplaned, he said.

Now, the new challenge is finding a different way to their destination. McLean was still at JFK Airport along with a most of the  other passengers at 4 p.m. Friday, trying to find another flight.

"JetBlue has said they'll be scheduling another flight for later this evening," he said.

The species and origin of the birds has yet to be determined.

On Jan.15, 2009, U.S. Airways Flight 1549 struck a flock of Canada geese during its initial ascent and lost engine power. Famously known as the "Miracle On The Hudson," the pilot landed the plane in the Hudson River with no loss of life.

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