Jet Hits Bear on Alaska Runway

Jet Hits Bear on Alaska Runway
Photo: Ted S. Warren, AP

For decades, people have wondered who would win in a battle of jetliner vs. bear. Over the weekend, we finally got an answer, and it might just break your heart.

On Saturday night, a Boeing 737-700 hit a brown bear on the runway at the Yakutat Airport in Eastern Alaska, Anchorage Daily News reports. According to the local outlet, ground crews followed proper procedures to check the runway before an Alaska Airlines flight touched down. But at the last minute, the pilots saw two bears crossing in the plane’s path. Alaska Airlines said that the pilot “felt an impact” and a brown bear sow was later discovered lying dead about six metres from the centre of the runway.

Alaska Airlines did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and it’s unclear how many passengers were aboard the plane. There were reportedly no injuries and passengers who were on their way to other destinations were eventually able to get seats on other flights.

While it’s a relief that everyone on board was fine, witnesses said that it appeared a bear cub became an orphan. Sam Dapcevich, a public information officer for the state’s Department of Transportation, told reporters that the cub was discovered on the side of the run was believed to be about two years old and was unharmed.

Damage to the plane was reportedly isolated to the left engine cowl and a spokesperson for the airline told the Anchorage Daily News that it would take a few days to repair.

Dapcevich told the outlet that crewmembers at the airport undergo annual wildlife hazard training, and while collisions with various animal species have occurred sporadically in the past, he believes this is the first instance of a jet running into a bear.