Bird Crashed Through Chopper Windshield, Right Into Pilot

Helicopter pilot 'covered in blood and feathers' after accident with waterfowl that struck him in head
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 8, 2023 11:09 AM CST
Bird Makes Unexpected Crash Landing in Helicopter
Stock photo of a helicopter ride, with nary a bird in sight.   (Getty Images/SK Lafoca)

While Americans carved their turkeys during Thanksgiving dinner this year, Iowa's Troy McCormick spent the holiday dealing with an entirely different kind of bird. The pilot with the Wings Air Rescue critical-care helicopter service out of Sioux City tells KCAU that he was flying his chopper toward a Storm Lake hospital on Nov. 23 when "wham!," a waterfowl crashed through the windshield and right into his head. The bird, which McCormick believes was a duck, "then exploded all over in the inside of the aircraft," he says.

"This window [had a] great big hole in the middle of it," McCormick adds, noting that the helicopter "was full of bird guts and feathers and broken glass." He says he may have been knocked out "for a little bit," and KCAU notes he was "covered in blood and feathers" himself as a colleague aborted their mission and landed at the Storm Lake airport. McCormick, who's been flying for more than two decades and joined the rescue group a year ago, has since returned to work, though he'll now be keeping an extra eye out for winged interlopers. "I'm grateful, super thankful, because it definitely could've ended differently," he says. (More freak accident stories.)

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