Pilots Warned About Escaped Vulture

The escape of a vulture named Gandalf from a bird show in Scotland has led to a warning to pilots in the U.K.

That's because the bird can soar more than 30,000 feet, putting her in the same altitude as commercial planes.

A spokeswoman for the Civil Aviation Authority tells the Daily Mail, "The impact of a bird strike can be serious whether it is one bird or many, and a single animal could do significant damage to a smaller aircraft."

Gandalf is seven years old, and a Ruppell's vulture, originally from Africa. She has a nearly 10-foot wingspan.

She escaped from a bird of prey center, World of Wings, in North Lanarkshire, Scotland. "She caught a nice thermal and was gone," Alan Galloway, director of the center, tells Reuters.

He says the bird had been at the center for six years, and is "clever and quite charming, but temperamental and not everybody's cup of tea."

Despite the pilot warnings, Galloway says he thinks it's unlikely the bird would pose a threat to aircraft as she would be hungry, flying low in search of food.

There have been unconfirmed sightings of Gandalf in Northern Scotland and southwest England.

Most collisions between birds and planes involve birds flying into engines – last year's US Airways emergency landing in the Hudson River in New York, as one example.

Photo, Lip Kee, flickr
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