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Pilot stays calm as bird smashes through the windshield of a small airplane

The pilot of a small single-propeller airplane stays calm after a bird crashes through its windshield, sending large pieces of broken plexiglass flying through the cockpit. If you watch the slow-motion (video below) carefully you can actually see the pilot’s glasses flying through the air. The pilot remains very calm even though he seems injured and continues to land the aircraft safely.

You cannot help but wonder what would have happened if a drone had hit the airplane instead.

Pilot stays calm after bird crashes through windshield

Late in February, this video was posted on Facebook showing a bird crashing through the windshield of a small single-propeller airplane. In the video, you can see large pieces of plexiglass flying through the cockpit. At one point the pilot reaches for his face and you can see blood on his hands. The video does not show if the pilot sustained any injuries but he likely suffered some cuts as a result of the broken plexiglass.

With the increase in drone-related incidents, you can only wonder what would have happened if this was a drone instead of a bird.

A recent study from the Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence (ASSURE) concluded that drones colliding with large manned aircraft will likely cause more structural damage than birds with the same weight for a given impact speed. This is because birds have a soft mass and tissue, drones are made of harder materials and contain more compact mass, such as batteries and motors, which are likely to cause more damage during a collision with a manned airplane.

In China, researchers went one step further and simulated what would happen when a drone impacts the windshield of a large passenger jet at high speed. The windshields of commercial jets are made from layered glass and are likely able to withstand the impact of a drone at high speed. Small airplanes with windshields mostly made from plexiglass seem to be much more vulnerable to drone impacts.

DroneDJ’s take

The takeaway for drone pilots is, keep your drone below 400 feet, stay at least 5 miles away from airports, and please learn the rules that apply to flying a drone in your country. For drone pilots in the U.S., you can go to “Know before you fly” to refresh or learn the rules. Airmap is a good source to see if any airports, airstrips or helipads are in your vicinity before you launch your drone.

Safe flying, everyone!

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Avatar for Haye Kesteloo Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Main Writer at DroneDJ, where he covers all drone related news and writes product reviews. He also contributes to the other sites in the 9to5Mac group such as; 9to5Mac, 9to5Google, 9to5Toys and Electrek. Haye can be reached at or @hayekesteloo