Civil Jet Strikes Bear During Alaska Runway Touch-Down, Passengers Unhurt

An Alaska Airlines jet struck a bear dead during landing, reportedly orphaning a young cub.
Brad Bergan

Few if any have wondered what would happen if a bear and a jet were placed on opposite sides of a deadly battle — but sadly we're all learning how grim the outcome is.

A Boeing 737-700 struck a brown bear on the runway at the Yakutat Airport in Eastern Alaska — right as the jet was touching-down on the airstrip, Anchorage Daily News reports.


Jet strikes bear on runway during touch-down in Alaska

The Alaska-based news outlet claims the ground crew followed proper procedures to check the runway before the Alaska Airlines flight could touch down. But in the final seconds, the pilots saw two bears crossing the trajectory of the plane, and one of them "felt an impact" of what airport authorities later found.

A brown bear sow was discovered dead roughly 20 feet (6 meters) from the center of the runway.

It remains unclear how many passengers were on the plane when the jet struck the bear — but reportedly, they suffered no injuries. Passengers transiting to connecting flights later found seats on other flights.

It's comforting to know no one on the plane was hurt, but witnesses say a bear cub was orphaned by the incident. A public information officer for Alaska's Department of Transportation named Sam Dapcevich told reporters the cub was found on the side of the runway, looked roughly two years old, and unharmed, Gizmodo reports.

Alaska Airlines Hit Bear Robert E-Bear Johnson
The impact dented one of the engines of the Alaska Airlines jet. Source: Robert E-bear Johnson / Facebook

Minor damage to Boeing, airports dangerous to animals

"Alaska Airlines flight 66 hit and killed a bear while landing here in Yakutat last night. No one on the plane was injured and her cub survived," said a man called "Robert E-bear Johnson" in a Facebook post. "Friends on the plane said that they definitely felt a 'bump.' The airplane remains on the tarmac in Yakutat."

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The plane reportedly only received damage to the left engine cowl, and an airline spokesperson told Anchorage Daily News the disfigured plane would take a few days to repair.

It's easy to forget in the bewildering stop-and-go of airline flights how the rest of the animal kingdom handles such the strange technological means humans use to travel the world. No matter how many precautions are taken, some creatures inevitably find their way into dangerous, traffic-heavy areas. While this incident may have orphaned a cub from its mother bear, we can at least take solace in knowing it — and the passengers — appear to have survived unscathed.

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