Actually bird strikes interest me quite a lot as I have had a similar experience to this Pelican accident myself, ...my following account is of a bird strike that I consider I was "very fortunate to survive" unscathed :-
"Falcon 20 Bird Strike". ...I was the First Officer, flying with Captain X. He was in his mid fifties.
In his past he had been variously an RAF pilot, a Hawker test pilot, and a
Tristar captain with a major airline. At the time of the incident we had been friends for
some time, and one of his engaging old flying stories had admitted to
me a longstanding problem with his eyesight. He nevertheless remained a well
above average pilot.
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Photo © Ian Woodcock
X was in the left seat and handling the Dassault Falcon 20. It was a military sortie for
the Royal Navy and as a consequence we were at low level. I was in the right
hand seat navigating. I had removed my shoulder harness at some point
because it did not fit comfortably, but my lap strap was still tight. We were
flying at 250feet and 250knots(I.A.S.) in smooth air and straight towards a Royal Navy frigate
in an allocated danger area at the entrance to the Firth of Forth in Scotland.
As we had reached the ships overhead X commenced a 45degree banked turn to the right
on to the reciprocal aircraft heading. This was standard and consistent with our brief. As X turned the
aircraft I looked down to my left and entered a new position for the ship
into the Tracor (our navigation equipment) between the seats as briefed by
X. I was aware that X flew the turn accurately as I simultaneously monitored
his flight instruments.
Looking out again as X was rolling the wings level, I immediately saw two
large sea birds. They were mostly white with a little black on their very
long high aspect ratio wings, I recognised them as Gannets. Flying close
together as a pair, in approximately the same direction as us, but slightly
higher (between 50-100feet). I pointed and reported them to X at 1oclock
(30degrees right). At this point we were almost wings level and still
250feet and 250knots (as one might expect X could fly quite accurately) and
I considered that no risk of collision existed. Although clearly, both birds
would pass close.
Well then X advised me that he could not see the birds and I glanced at him
briefly to see if he was looking in the correct location. I also continued
to point at the birds with my left hand. Unfortunately X not only looked
where I indicated, he accidentally I presume, caused or allowed the aircraft
literally to home in that direction as well. Suddenly I was aware of a
Gannet coming backside first at something in the order of 250knots straight
at my face. Without the shoulder straps I was not restrained and ducked left
and down below the instrument panel combing. I believe that I was physically
below the combing but still looking up, when I saw the bird at the point of
bursting exactly through the middle of "my" centre windscreen panel.
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Photo © Simon Thomas
..."which is the panel on the left in this photo above"
Then something amazing happened. The gannet was deflected and with inches to
spare tracked vertically up my ( the right hand ) centre windscreen panel.
Disappearing over the roof in line with where my head would normally be just
below. I have still images of this course of events permanently recorded on
my brain. It never actually touched the glass but nevertheless was very
close. I was temporarily shocked for 10 to 15 seconds.
The Gannet went down the starboard engine.
To his credit X had pulled up very quickly and we were passing 1000feet as I
recovered my composure and I saw that he had also pulled the starboard
powerlever into shutoff. He told me that the engine had stopped dead in a
few seconds, and that was the reason for him closing the powerlever to the
shutoff position. I was not happy that he had not confirmed this action with
me first, or for that matter that he had almost managed to stuff my face
into a large seabirds bottom at high speed.
We landed on one engine, but without further incident at Edinburgh, and
headed home soon after on a British Airways 757. The damaged engine had to
be replaced before the aircraft could be recovered to our base.
X and I remained good friends, but X would never discuss what he actually did or
did not see, and when I regaled other pilots with the story in his earshot
he would always insist the two birds had been Sparrows.
The Gannet is said to be the largest seabird in the North Atlantic with a wingspan up to
2 metres, ...at a distance they look a bit like an Albatross.