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Jetliner hits bear on runway in Southeast Alaska, state officials say

An Alaska Airlines jetliner was damaged when it struck a brown bear on the runway after landing at the Yakutat Airport on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020. (Photo by R E Johnson)
An Alaska Airlines jetliner was damaged when it struck a brown bear on the runway after landing at the Yakutat Airport on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020. (Photo by R E Johnson) (Copyright 2020 by WSLS 10 - All rights reserved.)

YAKUATA, Alaska – It was anything but a regular landing for an Alaska Airlines jetliner when it struck a brown bear early Saturday evening, according to airline officials. The animal was killed and the collision caused some damage to the plane. No one in the plane was hurt.

Airport crew members had cleared the runway about 10 minutes before flight 66 was expected to land, said Sam Dapcevich, a public information officer for the state’s Department of Transportation. According to a report from the Anchorage Daily News, the crews did not see any signs of wildlife during the check, but as the plane began to slow after landing, Dapcevich said, the pilots spotted two bears crossing the runway.

Alaska Airlines flight 66 hit and killed a bear while landing here in Yakutat last night. No one on the plane was...

Posted by Robert E-bear Johnson on Sunday, November 15, 2020

“The nose gear missed the bears, but the captain felt an impact on the left side after the bears passed under the plane,” a statement from Alaska Airlines said.

The Boeing 737-700 struck and killed a brown bear sow, but its cub, thought to be roughly 2 years old, was uninjured, Dapcevich said.

The Yakutat Airport is partially enclosed by a fence. Dapcevich said employees undergo annual wildlife hazard training and use pyrotechnics or vehicles to herd animals away from the area when needed. He said it was dark out when the plane landed, and crews followed normal procedure checking the runway Saturday.

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