Air Force Two Carrying Mike Pence Forced to Return to Airport After Bird Strike

September 23, 2020 Updated: September 23, 2020

A plane carrying Vice President Mike Pence was forced to return to New Hampshire after it was hit by at least one bird during takeoff.

Video footage posted on social media showed birds striking Air Force Two, and another photo showed Pence inspecting the engine after the incident. Devin O’Malley, a spokesperson for Pence, told news outlets that it hit a bird.

The pilots of Air Force Two decided then to return to the airport out of an abundance of caution, O’Malley said, reported CNN.

Pence and his staff used a cargo plane to return to Washington, according to pool reports. Pence held a rally earlier in the day in Gilford.

“Earlier this evening Air Force 2 experienced a possible bird strike shortly after departure. Flight crew contacted the tower & returned to MHT safely. MHT rescue/firefighting were at staging areas per our response protocols. No impact to the airfield, we remain in full operation,” officials with Manchester-Boston Regional Airport told WMUR-TV in a statement.

Student pilot Daniel Cerritos was at the airport to capture footage of Pence leaving.

“We were wondering what had happened and then we saw that the aircraft, on a tracker, that it had climbed up and then it stopped when it normally would not stop climbing,” Cerritos said. “It started to descend again and started making its way back to Manchester.”

According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) data, more than 14,661 bird strikes and other collisions occurred in 2018, reported USA Today. Bird strikes have been blamed for more than 106 civilian deaths over the past two decades.