Pilots flying in Scotland last week were treated to a novel warning from air controllers: watch out for a high flying vulture (high flying being a literal description). Gandalf, a Ruppell’s Vulture “escaped” during an airshow called World of Wings. The show was being held in Cumbernauld, which is near Glasgow, when Gandalf supposedly caught a warm thermal. This propelled her high up into the skies, and she was not seen again – for a while.
The “loss” of Gandalf, who has been with World of Wings for six years, prompted civil aviation authorities to warn pilots. Gandalf is originally from the African continent and has a wingspan of three meters. This gives the bird lots of flying power. Believe it or not, this kind of bird can actually fly up to 30,000 feet! Indeed, this capacity makes the bird a potential threat to airplanes in flight.
There have been many incidents in the past of aircraft colliding with birds. In many cases, these collisions have caused pilots to opt for an emergency landing. Remember the commercial airplane that had to land on the Hudson River?
To make things worse, Gandalf’s kind can fly for very long distances, making it difficult to predict where he would end up. The good news is that the bird has finally been found – at a Falkirk brickworks, interestingly enough. Experts were worried that the bird might reach as far as the European continent, but their fears were alleviated when Gandalf was spotted.
So if you’re flying anywhere near the area – you’re safe from show vultures now. 😉
Photo credit: Birdfinders