Moooove Over

                                  Cows on Ometepe airport runway~ Cindi Pearlman

Growing up in Pennsylvania, we were always on the lookout for deer leaping across the highway. Last summer, Ron and I counted twenty-three dead deer when we passed the Welcome to Pennsylvania sign. Splayed along both sides of the interstate, they reminded me of a massacre of enormous puffed wheat balls.

One of Bobby’s most infamous stories was the time the Paxeo shuttle took him to the Managua airport to catch an early morning flight.  A pregnant cow wandered into the path of the shuttle. Life in the fast lane for the pregnant cow came to an abrupt end that morning. The airbag erupted and the cow’s head flew through the windshield. Covered with blood and burns from the airbag, Bobby caught another taxi to the airport where the attendants looked at him in horror. They put him in first class and attended to his wounds, even offering him a change of clothes and free drinks.  Paxeos didn’t charge him for the trip, then offered him future discounted fares to the airport.

Road kill is prevalent on every highway and road in the world, but what are the statistics on runway kill?  With the Ometepe airport near completion, I wonder about the cows that cross the runway. How many animals have been hit by planes? According to the International Civil Aviation Organization, “Runway incursions are today one of the major factors affecting flight safety. Animals on the runway are a particularly pervasive problem at many airports.”

In March 2012, an airliner hit two cows while landing in Venezuela, killing both bovines and damaging the landing gear and the flaps on the plane’s left-wing. Below are a few other accidents with cows on the runway:

  • In 2005, a herd of cows was hit by an Air France Airbus A330 carrying nearly 200 passengers while landing in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. Following that incident, local authorities began arresting stray cows and holding them until their owners paid a fine.
  • In 2011, an Aviastar Twin Otter carrying 30 people hit three cows while landing at Komodo Airport in Indonesia. The front of that plane suffered damage and the cows were killed.
  • And in 2008, the wing of a British biplane clipped a cow while making an emergency landing, an incident which was caught on video. The cow was not injured. Unbelievable!

Watch out Ometepe bovines! Mooove over when those big ole’ planes sweep down to our island. Keep a moooovin on or you may be my next meal of runway kill.


6 thoughts on “Moooove Over

  1. While living in Nosara CR then local 12 seater took off into bright clear skies. Suddenly the front windshield shattered spraying the pilot and passengers with dead fish from the gullet of a passing Pelican! Pilot landed safely with a broken leg and a planeful of laughing passengers. Gladly no one was badly hurt though sadly the Pelican didn’t make it!

  2. I’ve personally encountered a herd of cows coming towards me and that was quite an experience. We trust that the herders can control the lovely cows but only so much they can do. We all hope the fatalities are nil and there’ll be better traffic control when the time comes…Poor souls

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