An escaped horse on board an Air Atlanta Icelandic flight recently caused the plane to make an emergency return to JFK Airport.
This story has an unsettling and sad ending.
Social media users have since quipped that the horse, which could have been straight out of a Hollywood movie, brought a whole new meaning to the term “wild ride.”
The flight took off from JFK Airport.
The flight, which was headed to Belgium, left JFK airport and reached about 31,000 feet when the horse managed to break loose from its enclosure, CNN reports.
The plane was headed to Belgium when it experienced some turbulence.
The crew quickly realized that controlling a horse in the confined space of an airplane was no easy task. It became evident that the safest course of action was to return to the airport since staff members struggled to secure the horse.
The commotion caused the horse to panic.
Air Atlanta Icelandic is no stranger to transporting animals. In fact, the carrier often transports racehorses and other livestock across continents. However, this was a first even for them.
The crew struggled to contain the horse once it got out from the stall.
The flight turned back, making an unscheduled landing back at JFK airport, the report adds, while the airport authorities were alerted about the situation and animal control officers were rushed to the scene.
The flight was diverted back to JFK airport.
The horse was safely off-boarded where it was immediately calmed down by emergency response professionals. It’s believed that a thorough inspection of the plane was carried out to ensure no damage had been caused during the equine escape attempt.
How did the horse get loose?
In a released recording from the crew’s call to Air Traffic Control, it was noted by the pilot that there was no issue “flying wise.
Officials speak out following the tragic incident.
Chairman of ARK, John Cuticelli, who deals with animal export, said that following some turbulence, the horse had jumped. In doing so, its front legs were jammed between the barrier of the stall.
Everything was done to try and save the horse’s life.
And since the horse could not be secured again, the pilot decided to reroute the flight.
“We dispersed veterinary care, animal handlers, medical equipment, horse slings, a horse ambulance, everything necessary to accommodate that horse,” Cuticelli said, explaining what happened after the plane landed.
In the end, the horse was euthanized.
Unfortunately, the injuries sustained on the plane were so severe that after being extricated, the horse reportedly had to be euthanized.
Some people feel that horses shouldn’t fly on planes.
“It’s only the second time in all the years I’ve been doing this that I’ve ever seen that happen. And we do thousands of horses a year. A very unfortunate event — but that horse was spooked,” he continued.
Health Risks During Flight
The horse’s death has left some people feeling torn on whether these animals should be flying on planes, to begin with.
Horses are large animals.
One person argued that the change in altitude and cabin pressure during a flight can often pose significant health risks to horses.
Other people feel they are too big to be kept in a plane for hours.
They said that, unlike humans, horses cannot pop their ears to relieve pressure changes, and that these shifts could cause discomfort and potential health problems such as colic or sinus issues.
It’s often been argued that horses don’t belong in planes.
Another user said that the stress of flying could compromise a horse’s immune system, allegedly making them more susceptible to disease and infection.
The health effects…
“Why horses are being transported on planes is honestly ridiculous. I’m sorry but aside from a dog or maybe a cat, horses shouldn’t be flying on planes,” one person wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Physical dangers and confined spaces
Another person said that horses are large, powerful animals that are not naturally suited to confined spaces such as the interior of an aircraft.
The risks that are not often talked about.
The limited space could therefore cause stress and anxiety, leading to a higher risk of injury.
Horses need feeding, space, and hydration.
“A panicked horse can easily hurt itself or others around it in an attempt to escape,” another added in response to the horse’s death on a plane.
Airline crew can’t always accommodate to every horse’s needs.
Another significant risk of flying horses, as seen in this article, is the danger they pose in the event of turbulence or an emergency landing.
Other dangers that could occur.
Despite being secured in specially designed stalls, a horse can still become a dangerous projectile during severe turbulence, potentially causing damage to the aircraft and injury to itself and others.
Challenges in meeting basic needs
A horse’s basic needs during a flight could also be challenging.
Horses could choke on planes while being fed.
Feeding, hydration, and waste management are all major concerns. Studies say that horses need to eat regularly to maintain their digestive health, but feeding them in flight can be problematic due to space constraints and the risk of choking.
The big question remains: Is it reasonable and safe for horses to be taken on long flights?
It was even argued that ensuring that a horse remains properly hydrated during a long flight is a logistical challenge, and that waste management is another issue in itself.
The decision to do so comes with its risks.
Many have said that since horses urinate and defecate frequently, managing this in a confined aircraft space is not only unpleasant but could also pose health hazards.