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BASH: Keeping birds away from birds

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jared Duhon
  • 436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Team Dover has about $5.8 billion worth of C-17 Globemaster III and C-5M Super Galaxies, which deliver 25 percent of the Air Forces' global airlift mission.

A single bird can cause damage to an aircraft and in a critical phase of flight such as take-off or landing, it can cause an aircraft to go down. This unwanted collision is monitored and managed by the Bird and Wildlife Aircraft Strike Hazard (or BASH) program, which focuses on preventing wildlife-related aircraft mishaps and reducing the potential for wildlife hazards to aircraft operations.

"Dover's program is huge multiagency collaboration," said Master Sgt. John Willard, 436th Airlift Wing Safety Office flight safety NCO. "The team consist of personnel from the 436th Civil Engineer Squadron's Pest Management, 436th Operations Support Squadron Air traffic control tower, 436th OSS Airfield Management, 436 AW Safety Office and the wildlife management contractor and biologist, David Curtiss."

Another important team member who doesn't have a Department of Defense Common Access Card but has full base access to chase down the thousands of birds that tend to migrate in and around base, is Curtiss's Border Collie, Kilo. She plays an integral role in keeping birds from landing near base.

"Before adding dogs to our team, pyrotechnics and depredation tactics were used to get rid of birds," said Curtiss. "Kilo and her predecessors have shown that canine harassment is a better method because they are perceived as predators which keeps birds from coming back or even near the base."

Although Kilo's presence has decreased the number of bird strikes, they are not a thing of the past. This year alone, there have been 29 recorded wildlife-aircraft strikes near Dover AFB. Bird strikes can sometimes go unnoticed in flight.

"When an aircraft returns from a mission it is thoroughly inspected," said Chief Master Sgt. Robert Wright, 436th Maintenance Group superintendent. "If a bird strike or suspected strike is found, maintenance technicians take samples which are sent to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. where the type of bird and migratory patterns are determined and used for research through the BASH program."

Aircraft inspections and bird harassing canines are all part of the BASH program's teamwork approach to keeping Team Dover's birds away from nature's birds.

"Birds and wildlife are still nature and we are never going to completely win the battle," said Lt. Col. Jason Mills, 436th AW chief of safety. "But, it is important to continue to try and fight it which is why we have the bash program, to protect our assets."