SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – It was the latest bird strike scare at Sacramento International Airport as a Southwest plane was forced to make an emergency landing shortly after takeoff.

Lori Perez is home, safe and sound, and sharing a laugh with her son and husband after a scare she’ll never forget.

“It was really the burning smell that got me,” said Perez. “That got me really nervous.”

Perez was sitting near the wing on th Southwest plane forced to make an emergency landing right after takeoff Thursday after hitting a flock of birds. She heard a bang and saw fire coming from the engine, trying not to panic.

“Just thought of my son and my husband, and my parents, the people that mean the most,” said Perez.

As she now knows first-hand, bird strikes are common at Sacramento International Airport, though they rarely force emergency landings.

“We’re located in an area with a lot of migratory activity, but the great thing is we have a great wildlife management plan,” said Karen Doron, an airport spokesperson.

However, it’s a plan that won’t include avian radar. First used at Seattle’s airport to provide real-time monitoring of wildlife activity, it was once in the airport’s future plans.

A spokeswoman tells CBS13 that the airport decided several months ago not to move forward with the $500,000 project because it won’t meet the airport’s needs.

It’s a decision Perez hopes they reconsider.

“If there’s technology that could prevent this from happening, I think it would be something worth looking into,” said Perez.

CBS13 did reach out to airport officials asking why the airport did not move forward with the project but did not get a response.


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