Horse Escapes On Boeing 747: Listen As Captain Declares Emergency, Returns To New York

On Thursday, a horse escaped inside the cargo hold of a Boeing 747. The Air Atlanta Icelandic flight from New York JFK to Liage, Belgium declared an emergency while still in climb out as it reached 31,000 feet: “We are a cargo plane with a live animal, a horse, on board. 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 resecure the horse.”

In order to make the return to New York, pilots had to dump 20 tons of fuel. Some emergencies require foaming a runway. Or a plane loses horsepower. This one required a veterinarian to be present on arrival.

It’s not clear how the horse managed to escape and roam around the cargo hold. It was not belted for landing.

What did the pilot say when he saw the horse in the cargo hold? “Looks like we have an unexpected ‘neigh’-bor on board!”

(HT: Paddle Your Own Kanoo)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. We need to rein in the humor. This is a serious situation. The Flying Groom (horse FA) must have forgotten the PDB service. Perhaps they are also in union negotiations.

  2. If the horse was shut in a horse transporter on board, it could be that the not-really-locked “lock” and gate door ended up opening up due to vibrations.

    If they had tied the horse into an open area using ropes alone, maybe they didn’t tie the ropes properly and so it got away in part inside the hold if not entirely.

  3. Horses are in a container much like a trailer with stalls and sliding windows for food and water. If the stall ties break a truly upset horse will try to squeeze their way out. The Flying Groom should have administered a tranquilizer at the first sign of trouble.

  4. How is this not criminally negligent that a “veterinarian”, a tranquilizer gun and shotgun was not on board? This plane passed 2 miles overhead of my house. And dumped 3000 gallons of fuel (at least $15,000) into the ocean. Seriously

  5. Maybe it was Mr. Ed and the pilot should have let the horse do the talking?

    “A horse is a horse, of course, of course,
    And no one can talk to a horse of course
    That is, of course, unless the horse is the famous Mr. Ed.”

  6. @ Mr Ed. Thank you Wilbur!

    @ thing 1. Yes a lot of horses travel with emotional support animals. I owned one. It’s an expensive sport

  7. Who did they drop the 20 tons of fuel on? Or did it go into the ocean. What bullshit. Who really needs to fly a f’ing horse?

  8. Reading the comments are funny. Wouldn’t happen on Delta? Yeah because they don’t fly freighter aircraft. Who would fly a horse? Lots of people? It is a better option than putting on an ocean vessel. Race Horses are big bucks and they are shipped all the time. As for the author, shame on you for not doing your due diligence and getting proper facts and spelling Liege airport… The airline was CAL. They have shoddy equipment. For those doubting the story…. It is 100% true. As an Air Cargo Veteran with 30+ years in the industry I have about a dozen similar crazy stories involving animals… drunk elephants, Rhinos busting through steel containers, escaped lions, chimps etc…

  9. Only if they’re dumping fuel at a very low altitude is it possible for any fuel to reach the ground/ocean.

    Since they had just crossed 30,000 feet when they started and declared their emergency, they would’ve started dumping fuel immediately that guarantees not a drop of it reach the ground. Fuel disperses and evaporates long before that point.

  10. Funny, funny, funny, haha.

    Except, if you read the CNN story, the horse was spooked by turbulence, managed to jump halfway out of its stall, got hung up with its forelegs out and hind legs in, and when unloaded after landing was determined to be so badly injured it had to be euthanized.


  11. My vet here in California used to fly in the cargo hold with the horses. He accompanied many to and from Japan . The Jockey club requires b
    Live cover for breeding and does not allow artificial insemination.

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