A Boeing 747 cargo plane bound for Belgium from New York City was forced to return to John F. Kennedy International Airport after a horse that was on board managed to escape from its stall and was wandering free, ABC News reports.
An audio clip published by You Can See ATC of air traffic control officers communicating about the incident revealed the horse got loose less than 30 minutes after the plane got into the air.
The plane was only just reaching cruising altitude when staff realized what happened.
At just below 31,000 feet, a pilot radioed into air traffic control to reveal that the plane would be returning to JFK after the horse got out of its stall.
“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 pilot said.
It’s unclear why the horse couldn’t be put back into its stall while in the air.
Pilots had to dump roughly 20 tons of fuel into the Atlantic Ocean.
Since the flight was forced to turn around near Boston and the weight of the plane was too heavy, the flight dropped the fuel about 10 miles west of Martha’s Vineyard, right into the water.
Pilots also requested a veterinarian be available at JFK when the plane touched down just in case the horse in question needed medical care. It seems that was the case, as ATC asked if assistance was needed, with the pilot responding, “On the ground, negative. On the ramp, yes, we have a horse in problem.”
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The cargo flight did eventually head to Liege Airport later that morning.
It’s unclear what became of the horse that got loose, and Air Atlanta Icelandic, the company operating the flight, didn’t respond to calls for comment.