In an unexpected turn of events, an Air Atlanta Icelandic flight bound for Belgium was compelled to turn back just under 20 minutes into its journey due to a horse breaking loose in the plane’s cargo hold.
The incident unfolded shortly after the flight took off from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. The equine passenger, housed in the cargo hold, managed to free itself and proved difficult to re-secure within its designated area.
A reconstruction of the flight’s path, shared on YouTube, depicted the aircraft’s ascent to 31,000 feet over Boston, at which point the pilots initiated contact with air traffic control.
Audio recordings reveal the pilots requesting permission to return to New York, citing their inability to restrain the loose horse. Furthermore, they sought the presence of a veterinarian upon landing to address the situation.
The clip, uploaded on the ‘You can see ATC’ channel, captured the urgency of the situation as the flight crew made the decision to jettison approximately 20 tons of fuel near Martha’s Vineyard during the return to New York.
In the recording, the pilots explained, “We are a cargo plane with a live animal, a horse, on board. The horse has broken out of its stall. We don’t have a problem as of flying wise, but we need to return, return back to New York. We cannot get the horse back secured.”
This unusual incident highlights the challenges posed by unexpected events in aviation and underscores the importance of swift decision-making by flight crews in ensuring the safety of both passengers and live cargo.