An Air Atlanta Icelandic flight had to make an unexpected return to JFK Airport shortly after takeoff when a horse broke loose in the cargo hold.
Unbridled drama: Horse stall escape forces Air Atlanta Icelandic flight u-turn
As reported by several media sources, the incident unfolded on a flight from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport to Belgium.
Merely 20 minutes into the journey, chaos ensued when a horse managed to break free from its stall in the cargo hold. The crew’s attempts to secure the horse back in its allocated area were unsuccessful.
A YouTube video, showing the flight’s reconstructed path, harrowingly showed how the aircraft had reached an altitude of 31,000 feet over Boston when the pilots contacted air-traffic control.
In the audio, which you can listen to below, the pilots can be heard requesting permission to return to New York, citing their inability to re-secure the horse and asking for a veterinarian to be on standby upon landing.
As part of the emergency procedures, the flight crew had to jettison approximately 20 tons of fuel near Martha’s Vineyard to ensure a safe return to New York.
The pilots communicated the situation clearly:
“We are a cargo plane with a live animal, a horse, on board. The horse has broken out of its stall. We don’t have a problem as of flying wise but we need to return, return back to New York. We cannot get the horse back secured.”
Meanwhile, Flightradar24 reported that the flight eventually took off again at 18:35 pm and successfully landed in Liege at about 06.49 local time on Friday, 10 November 2023.
At the time of writing, Air Atlanta Icelandic had not yet released an official statement regarding the situation.