Bird Strike Forces Emergency Landing at Reagan National Airport, Startling Neighbors

A plane made an emergency landing at Reagan National Airport Tuesday after a bird took out one of its engines, startling nearby neighbors.

Shortly before noon, a Memphis-bound Republic Airlines flight operated by American Airlines hit a bird as it was taking from Reagan, forcing the pilot to return to the airport.

A couple that lives off Foxhall Road in northwest D.C. told News4 they heard a huge bang and looked up in the sky. The plane was making a sound so loud and unusual, they thought it was going to crash.

"All of a sudden I hear this bang and I realized it was an airplane and I come out of the garage and I look up and I hear this plane going baaaaaaaa," Mike Harbold said.

Harbold is used to the sound of planes flying right above his home, but that was anything but normal.

For Harbold and his wife, Alexandra, it wasn't the first major plane incident with which they've dealt. They were in New York in 2001 when an American Airlines plane crashed just a few blocks away from where they were in Queens.

"What are the chances of something like that happening again?" Alexandra Harbold said. "You get used to hearing the planes and you don't think it's such a big deal, but when you've had that experience, any noise out of the ordinary you start to panic and you think you are got to relive this experience."


Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia local news, events and information

Police investigate fatal shooting in Navy Yard

‘Red Bull guy' accused of stealing thousands of dollars in energy drinks

The plane landed safely and no one was hurt.

American Airlines has not replied to a request for comment.

Bird strikes happen frequently. More than 13,000 were reported in 2014, according to the FAA.

Most famously, a 2009 bird strike in New York City took out both engines on a plane, requiring pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger to land on the Hudson River. All 158 passengers and crew members survived what is known as the Miracle on the Hudson.

Contact Us