A cargo plane bound for Belgium was forced to make an abrupt U-turn back to New York City after a horse broke free from its crate mid-flight.
The incident occurred on a Boeing 747 operated by Air Atlanta Icelandic, as reported by local news station WABC-TV.
The plane had reached an altitude of approximately 31,000 feet when the crew realized they couldn't contain the escaped horse.
The pilot immediately contacted air traffic control to inform them of the situation, emphasizing the need to return to JFK Airport due to the unsecured animal on board.
“We are a cargo plane with a live animal, a horse, on board,” the pilot stated. “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.”
In addition to the emergency landing, the crew was compelled to dump 20 tons of fuel near Martha’s Vineyard to manage the plane's weight for a safe landing.
Upon their return, the pilot requested veterinary assistance for the horse, which was reportedly in distress. The condition of the horse, post-incident, remained unclear.
Representatives from Air Atlanta Icelandic were not immediately available for comment on the matter. The specifics of how the horse managed to escape its confinement were not disclosed.
The plane remained in the air with the unrestrained horse until it safely landed back at JFK, as per the air traffic control recordings.
This bizarre incident closely follows a similar event in August, where a bear managed to escape its crate on an Iraqi aircraft, causing significant delays and passenger frustration.
The bear was eventually sedated and removed from the plane by specialists, as confirmed by an Iraqi Airways official.