An Ecuadorian pilot proved to be just as cool in the cockpit as Top Gun’s Iceman, when a giant bird smashed through his windscreen.
Ariel Valiente managed to keep a level head and aircraft after a bird smashed through his small aircraft’s windshield mid-flight.
Valiente recorded a twelve second video of the huge bird’s body dangling into his cockpit as he kept a firm hand on the plane’s yolk.
He then turned the camera on himself to reveal that his face and uniform was splattered in presumably what was the deceased bird’s blood.
Ecuadorian journalist Carlos Vera tweeted the video, which went viral with 1.8 million views.
“Captain Ariel Valiente, today in Vinces,” he captioned the post. “What a bird can do against the windshield. The helmet and his self-control saved him…”
One commenter wrote that Valiente was “a hero of calm and control.”
Aviation news outlet FL360aero lauded Valiente for managing “to control the situation.
A Twitter user replied that the scene was “straight outta horror movie. Love how calm the pilot is looking, bada**.”
“KFC for lunch,” someone joked.
On a more serious note, somebody lauded Valiente for how he managed to control the plane.
“Notice how his right foot automatically went to the “car’s brake pedal”? Classic example of the learning factor of “Primacy,” said a Twitter user who claims to be a flight instructor.
“When in a stressful situation, pilots will revert to the first thing they learned. That’s why initial training is so important.”
Some social media users speculated that the bird was an Andean Condor, which can have over a ten foot wingspan and weigh up to 33 pounds.
The large black vulture is lauded as the largest bird of prey in the world and is native to the western coast of South America, where Ecuador is located.
Bird’s striking planes is extremely common, with the Federal Aviation Administration reporting an average of 47 occurring daily.
97% of bird strikes happen at take off or landing, and generally happen below 3,000 feet, but incidents occasionally occur at up to 15,000 feet.
Only 2-8% of bird strikes cause damage to the actual aircraft. In the first three months of 2022, there were 1,696 strikes in the United States, but only 12 of the planes reported damage.