An Israel Air Force "Baz" fighter was forced to make an emergency landing last week, but the cause was due to a pelican.
The IDF Spokesperson's Office revealed Monday that last Thursday's incident in which an Israeli Air Force F-15E "Baz" fighter was forced to make an emergency landing was caused by a flock of pelicans who flew into the pilot's flight path during takeoff. Birds are often a cause for concern by pilots in Israel.
One of the pelicans was sucked into an air intake, causing one of the Baz's engines to catch fire, but the pilot and navigator were successful in executing a quick emergency landing.
Fire crews put out the blaze shortly after the plane landed. No one was injured in the incident.
"Suddenly, we saw the plane on fire in the air," said an IAF officer at the Tel Nof air traffic control tower. "The plane immediately turned to land and we called fire and rescue services. This was an unusual and frightening event, but in the end everything functioned properly."
The twin engine F-15E is known for its remarkable durability and has a reputation as the world's preeminent all-weather strike fighter.
In 2009 IAF pilot Tzvi Nedavi landed his F-15 after a midair collision during a training flight in which a wing was sheared off of his fighter - a feat engineers at McDonnell Douglas insisted was impossible until Israel shipped them the plane for inspection.
Nedavi said at the time, "They realized that the F-15 has such a wide body that, if you are going fast enough, you can fly it like a rocket."