A plane struck a full-grown bear while landing in Yakutat, Alaska, this weekend, killing the bear. None of the passengers or crew members were injured, though the plane was damaged.
The Alaska Airlines 737 had just touched down and was decelerating when the flight crew saw the bears, a mother and a cub, crossing the runway and then heard an impact on the left side of the plane.
Then, as the pilots were taxiing the plane back to the gate, they spotted the body of the bear on the runway. Damage to the plane, apparently mostly to the inlet cowling, didn’t look very serious, and the airline said it expected the plane to be repaired and returned to service in short order.
It is the first known instance of a plane hitting a bear in Alaska, though collisions with other kinds of wildlife are somewhat more common.
One reason for the rarity is that airports closely monitor for wildlife and use various methods to keep them away from runways. In fact, according to reports, crews had just completed a ground check of the runway shortly before the accident but had not seen the bears.