Sunday, March 8, 2009


This is coolbert:

Please see earlier BASH I and BASH II entries.

BASH. "A bird strike (sometimes birdstrike, bird hit, or BASH - Bird Aircraft Strike Hazard) is a collision between an airborne animal (usually a bird or bat) and a man-made vehicle, especially aircraft. It is a common threat to aircraft safety, and has caused a number of fatal accidents."

Collision with bird or birds, BASH, a bird-strike on a military aircraft, with possible fatal consequences, was a problem most egregiously encountered, for a period of decades, on Midway Island, Pacific Ocean?

Prior to, during and in the aftermath of [for the entire period of the Cold War], Midway Island was a vital military outpost. The airfield and attendant facilities on Midway played a significant, perhaps even irreplaceable role as part of U.S. war planning and war making capability?

[Midway became a U.S. possession as a consequence of the Guano Act of 1856. Uninhabited, unclaimed oceanic territory of no real importance until the age of aviation. An island perfectly situated halfway between Asia and Hawaii. Ideally suited as a military facility, most specifically, an airfield!!]

An airfield plagued by presence of the Laysan albatross. The black-footed booby! Called the gooney bird by the locals. A large bird, with a wingspan of up to seven feet in a fully grown adult. Indiscriminate nesters, begetting themselves in prodigious numbers, oblivious to the presence of man. AND AN ENDANGERED AND PROTECTED SPECIES!!

Birds, in particular the albatross, presenting an extreme danger of BASH to aircraft either taking off or landing. A danger for which there seemed to be no amelioration. The U.S. Navy did adopt all sorts of measures to scare away, intimidate, move, "shoo" away the goonies, but to no avail. The gooney is not easily frightened by man or the activities of man, MAN IS TRESPASSING IN THE RESERVE OF THE ALBATROSS, NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND! Nonetheless, the danger to military aircraft from BASH at Midway could not be described in any way other than BAD!!

That aircraft landing in the background has to run a gauntlet of albatross? Notice that the roosting area for the albatross is in exact proximity to the landing strip. And the air appears to be full [almost on a biblical scale!!] of airborne albatross, each and every one of those birds posing a danger to the landing aircraft!!

Here, from a U.S. Air Force document dated 1968. Speaking of the gooney bird problem on Midway:

"the goony birds at Midway Island. These are just off the parking ramp and you can see the high density there. The operations people said, 'Should we continue to operate in the daytime or at night?' So we did a little exercise . . . we computed the number of tons in the wingspread of these goony birds based on the population these operating the daytime as against night light. We came up with some fantastic figures on how much bird meat there was in the air during the daytime with this population versus how few in terms of petrels and other night flying birds. . . . an impact and ingestion at night might be many times worse than one in the day time. But in any case, this problem is the most severe of any we have in the Air force [U.S. Navy too for that matter] today."

Again - - A LOT OF CONSIDERATION WAS GIVEN TO MITIGATING THE POSSIBILITY OF BASH INCIDENTS AT MIDWAY. The experts were called in and their final concerted opinion was to have landings and takeoffs restricted to nighttime. But - - what if a military mission requires a daylight take off or landing? The mission comes first - - forget about the danger?

Also, it had been observed that the albatross would not nest on a paved surface, concrete or asphalt. SERIOUS CONSIDERATION WAS GIVEN TO PAVING OVER THE ENTIRE ISLAND OF MIDWAY. This was not done, and the albatross are forever grateful.

Midway has now been abandoned by the military, and is now a nature refuge and sanctuary. Visitors can obtain a permit to observe the wildlife, BUT VISITING AIRCRAFT MUST ONLY FLY IN/OUT DURING HOURS OF DARKNESS BASH INCIDENT BE DAMNED! ["at night might be many times worse than one in the day time"].


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