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Horse Escapes from Cargo Flight Mid-Air Forces the Plane to Return to Airport

A Boeing 747-800 prepares taxies onto the runway. STOCK PHOTO/Getty Images

In a bizarre event, a Boeing 747 cargo plane en route from New York to Belgium was forced to make a U-turn after a horse managed to break free from its stall.


The unexpected incident happened just 30 minutes into the flight, leaving the crew with the unique challenge of securing the runaway horse.

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At an altitude of 31,000 feet, a pilot calmly reported to air traffic control, “We are a cargo plane with a live animal, a horse, on board. The horse managed to escape its stall. There’s no issue with flying, but we need to go back to New York as we can’t resecure the horse.”

The plane was forced to return to New York's John F. Kennedy Airport. Horse
The plane was forced to return to New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport.[Photo/CNN]

The decision to return to John F. Kennedy International Airport led to another unexpected twist. The pilot, faced with the excess weight due to the horse and its equipment, had to dump approximately 20 tons of fuel over the Atlantic, off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard.

Amidst the fuel dump, the crew made a unique request: a veterinarian to be present at JFK upon landing. The pilot emphasized the urgency, stating, “We have a horse in problem.”

Upon landing, the situation became clearer when ATC inquired about the need for assistance. The response: “On the ground, negative. On the ramp, yes, we have a horse in a problem.”

The mysterious escape of the horse remains unexplained, with the audio confirming that the horse stayed unrestrained until the plane safely landed back at JFK. Air Atlanta Icelandic, the charter airline operating the flight, did not immediately respond to inquiries.

Despite the unusual setback, the flight managed to take off again and successfully reach its destination at Liege Airport on the following morning, albeit three hours behind schedule.

A spokesperson from Air Atlanta Icelandic confirmed the authenticity of the incident, stating that the information from the You Can See ATC video is correct.

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This airborne escapade adds to a string of recent animal-related incidents in the skies. Just last month, an otter and a rat caused commotion on a VietJet flight from Bangkok, and a bear cub broke free from its crate on a flight from Baghdad to Dubai.


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