Ninety minutes after taking off, a Boeing 747 cargo plane headed to Belgium from New York was forced to turn around mid-flight at about 31,000 feet elevation.
It wasn’t mechanical issues but a Houdini-esque loose horse that caused the abrupt 180 in flight plans. The horse, which broke loose from its stall on the plane, couldn’t be secured by the flight crew.
Reports by CNN indicate that the horse was one of 15 other horses being transported to Liege, Belgium, when the crew experienced turbulence after takeoff.
The horse spooked and jumped over the front barrier of the stall, catching his front legs over the side of the barrier.
The loose horse caused the flight to make the turn off the eastern coast of Canada, and due to the plane’s weight, they were forced to dump 20 tonnes of fuel over the Atlantic.
“We are a cargo plane with a live animal, a horse, on board,” a pilot said to Air Traffic Control. “The horse has broken out of its stall. There’s no issue with flying, but we need to go back to New York as we can’t re-secure the horse.”
The pilot, who was flying for Air Atlanta Icelandic flight 4592, requested that a veterinarian meet the plane when it landed at the John F Kennedy International Airport.
Sources indicate that once the plane landed, the pilot indicated that assistance was not needed until they reached the ramp. After landing, veterinarians, animal handlers, and equipment helped to tend to the horse.
John Cuticelli, head of the corporation responsible for animal quarantine and export at the JFK Airport, told new sources that the horse’s injuries were too severe, and it was euthanized upon landing.
Following the incident, the plane was able to take off the next day.
While horse transport is relatively common, as horses are shipped worldwide for horse racing and shows, so are issues with other animals. In Oct. 2023, a smuggled otter and a rat caused uproar after escaping from luggage on a flight from Bangkok. On a passenger flight from Baghdad to Dubai, a bear cub broke loose from its crate, requiring officials to tranquilize and apprehend the creature this August.
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