Helicopter pilot’s frightening flight: Turkey vulture smashes into chopper, lands on his lap

By | February 12, 2010

Helicopter pilot's frightening flight: Turkey vulture smashes into chopper, lands on his lap

A helicopter pilot in Miami picked up an unexpected passenger mid-flight last week – a turkey vulture that crashed through his windshield.

Paul Appleton and a friend were flying to Sun Life Stadium to shoot video before the Super Bowl when the bird abruptly dropped in.

“I had seen a turkey buzzard a little bit [in front of] my aircraft,” Appleton told WLBZ 2. “I lost sight of it for a second, and then I heard a boom.”

The bird smashed through front of the windshield, landing on Appleton in the cockpit.

“All of a sudden, I have a turkey vulture sitting on my lap, up against my chest, and on my forearm,” said Appleton, adding that he suffered a minor scratch to his forehead, and his headset and glasses were partially knocked off.

His friend, sitting next to him, shot video of the turkey as it remained awake, but largely still.

“It was a pretty big bird,” Appleton said.

He counted himself and his passenger fortunate that they remained in the air.

“I was lucky the buzzard didn’t knock my hand off the controls,” Appleton said, noting they were flying 80 to 90 mph with the wind whipping around inside the chopper through the gaping hole.

The bird remained on his lap during the 20-mile ride until he landed the aircraft.

Once the helicopter was back on the ground, the bird flew away. Appleton called for an animal control ambulance, but by then the bird was gone.

via Helicopter pilot’s frightening flight: Turkey vulture smashes into chopper, lands on his lap.

One thought on “Helicopter pilot’s frightening flight: Turkey vulture smashes into chopper, lands on his lap

  1. Paul Appleton

    Hello All,
    For those of you who only saw this Fox And Friends interview, it can be viewed on Youtube and many other places. When Fox edited it for airing, they started showing the ground video of my helicopter about 1 or 2 seconds after the buzzard flew away. The initial news report stemming from WSVN Fox in Miami did not show this either. They shot their video directly off of Tim’s 2 inch playback screen from his video camera. Tim had not even had time to fully review the video before the news videographer arrived at the airport, so the part of the bird flying away was missed by this videographer. The subsequent news reports have this video, as well as Youtube, so if you care to see the buzzard exit the helicopter and fly away, just do a search on any search engine, Google, Yahoo, etc… under “Helicopter Hits Buzzard” or enter my name, Paul Appleton and Tim Markley on the same line and you will find several links. On the Fox And Friends interview, if you look real close, you can see the bird flying over the perimiter fence of the airport. This was about 4 or 5 seconds after exiting the helicopter, but as I already said, you miss the buzzard actually taking off from my lap and flying away. You’ll see it on these other videos. What an experience. Paul Appleton

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