SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – A Southwest jet made an emergency landing at Sacramento International Airport Wednesday morning after being hit by three birds just after take off. It was the second emergency involving a Southwest plane in 12 hours at the airport.

Southwest Airlines Flight 1166 was headed to Ontario just after 6 a.m. when it was hit by several birds at about 1,000 feet altitude just after takeoff. The plane turned around and landed back at the airport, where it was met by emergency crews.

The plane, with 25 passengers on board, then taxied back to the gate. No one was hurt and all passengers were rerouted.

Bird strikes are fairly common at Sac International.

“We do get more than our share considering the size of our airport,” spokeswoman Laurie Slothower.

Sac International, which sits in the pacific flyway and in the middle of an agricultural area, has a higher rate of bird strikes than just about any other airport in the nation. It doesn’t help we’re in peak migration season right now.

There were 105 incidents reported as of November this year, though that’s about half the number reported in 2010. It turns out the airport has three biologists on staff whose sole job is to reduce bird strikes.

“Things like minimizing standing water, when we plant trees we plant trees that do not bear fruit … (reduce) attractive perches,” Slothother said.

The plane was checked out and put back into service, according to Southwest.

The bird strike comes just hours after another Southwest flight blew two tires during takeoff and aborted. That plane had just been towed off the runway when the bird strike was reported. No one was injured in that incident either.


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