Plane Turns Back to JFK After Horse Escapes on Board

Wire Service
By Wire Service
November 15, 2023New York
Plane Turns Back to JFK After Horse Escapes on Board
A taxi passes under the entrance to JFK Airport in the New York borough of Queens on Aug. 15, 2003. (Stuart Ramson/AP Photo)

A Boeing 747 en route from New York JFK to Liege, Belgium, was forced to turn around on November 9 after a horse got loose in the cargo hold.

The cargo flight operated by charter airline Air Atlanta Icelandic had climbed to around 31,000 feet when the crew contacted Air Traffic Control in Boston to report that the horse had escaped from its stall.

“We don’t have a problem (…) flying-wise,” one of the pilots says in a video reconstruction by YouTube channel “You Can See ATC,” but “we cannot get the horse back secured.”

In the recordings, Air Traffic Control can be heard granting the pilots’ request to return to JFK Airport and, because the plane was too heavy, to dump 20 tonnes of fuel east of Nantucket.

The pilot also asks for a veterinarian to meet the plane upon landing, because “we have a horse in difficulty.”

A representative from Air Atlanta Icelandic told CNN that the information in the “You Can See ATC” video is correct.

The flight history on tracking site shows that, following the diversion, the plane was able to take off again some three hours behind schedule. It landed in Liege at 6.49 a.m. local time on the morning of November 10.

Pound for pound, this incident is one of the biggest-hitters when it comes to animals escaping on planes, but critter problems are surprisingly common in the air.

In October 2023 alone, an otter and a rat were reported to have caused uproar after escaping from hand luggage on a VietJet flight from Bangkok, while a bear cub broke loose from its crate on a flight from Baghdad to Dubai while passengers were on board.

And a South African pilot was forced to make an emergency landing in April after a deadly Cape cobra slithered up his shirt—because it wouldn’t be a story about mid-flight animal incidents if we didn’t once mention “Snakes on a Plane.”

™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

ntd newsletter icon
Sign up for NTD Daily
What you need to know, summarized in one email.
Stay informed with accurate news you can trust.
By registering for the newsletter, you agree to the Privacy Policy.