Planes strike wildlife about 40 times a year at Tampa International Airport, FAA data shows

Vice President Mike Pence was heading back to D.C. after a rally in New Hampshire when a bird struck one of Air Force 2's engines, forcing pilots to make an emergency landing Tuesday.

“Just shock and amazement, like, holy cow! What did I catch?” said witness Daniel Cerritos.

At Tampa Bay Aviation Flight School, chief pilot Jason Paul said incidents like this happen, but it's crucial for a pilot to know exactly what to do.

“Any kind of abnormality during a critical phase of flight take-off, landing, or any phase of flight, you’re going to return to an airfield as soon as possible,” he said.

Which is exactly what the Air Force 2 pilots did.

According to the FAA, there are about 40 bird strikes reported every day in the U.S.

Perhaps the most famous led to the so-called Miracle on the Hudson in January 2009, when a flock of Canadian geese collided with US Airways Flight 1549, forcing the pilots to ditch in the Hudson River. 

All 155 people on board survived.

At Tampa International Airport, FAA data shows there have been more than 1,200 collisions between planes and wildlife over the last 30 years. That's about 40 a year. That also means airport employees are trained in wildlife removal.

“Any aircraft over 6,000 pounds is actually designed to climb on a single-engine. It’s a requirement to do so," Paul said. “Aircraft are inherently built around redundancy and that’s what keeps us safe in our environment.”