Mid-air bat strike leaves a pilot bleeding (and getting rabies shots)

A North Queensland crop dusting pilot named Josh Liddle has recounted a bizarre incident where a bat smashed through his aircraft windshield, leaving lots of “blood and guts” all over the place that he thought may have belonged to him:

Apparently, Josh was coming back from a spray run over sugar cane crops and he made the mistake of flying through the middle of a colony of bats as it was just after dark when they head out to hunt.

As bad as having a bat smash through a windshield and hit you in the face can be, it could be worst as bats can carry rabies and Josh was covered in bat blood and guts (it looked like a “homicide scene…”). In fact and since its discover in 1994, lyssavirus, a close relative of the rabies virus, has killed the only two Queenslanders who became infected with it as both suffered influenza-like symptoms before slipping into a coma from which they did not awake from. So it was six needles in the face and the chest, one in the arm and two in the bum for Josh as a precaution.

Josh also told the Brisbane Times that the bat colony is massive and it blackens the sky out when they depart. Moreover:

‘‘Their flight path is straight over the local airport. We can’t have this happening too often. We’ve got limited hours [in which] we can do our jobs and they’re during the early morning and late afternoon and that’s when the bats do their thing.’’

For that reason, he would like to see the bats moved on though methods previously endorsed by Premier Campbell Newman that include smoke bombs, noise and helicopters rather than a culling efforts. However, the Queensland Conservation Council has warned that bats are likely to have higher virus loads when stressed by harassment or destruction of their feeding and roost sites. Not to mention, they might take up residence some place else where they aren’t going to be any more welcomed.

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One Response to Mid-air bat strike leaves a pilot bleeding (and getting rabies shots)

  1. Brad Koehn February 14, 2013 at 16:56 #

    I had a bat strike last year when doing a night flight with my young son. We didn’t know it happened until we pushed the plane back into the lighted hangar and saw a big mess on the left wing. Luckily there was no damage to the aircraft; still I did file an FAA wildlife strike report.

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