News>Flight safety ensure wing mission clear for take off
A “BASH ” or Bird/Wildlife Aircraft Strike Hazard kit accompanies 8th Fighter Wing flight safety members when on the flight line at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea. The kit is part of the tools flight safety members use to rid the flight line and surrounding area of birds. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff Sgt. Tong Duong)
Master Sgt. Keith Kollasch, 8th Fighter Wing NCO of flight safety, cautiously approaches a fence line with shotgun in tow, to rid the air space of birds, Sept. 11, 2012 at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea. Most birds will fly off once a vehicle stops, but some will turn back. There have been 33 Air Force aircraft bird strikes to date, so flight safety members exhaust appropriate depredation methods to prevent future accidents. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff Sgt. Tong Duong)
Master Sgt. Keith Kollasch, 8th Fighter Wing NCO of flight safety, scans the air field at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea Sept. 11, 2012, after using lethal force to rid the flight line of birds. Throughout the month of October to mid March, more than 500,000 seasonal birds migrate through South Korea, creating a safety hazard for the pilots and flying mission here. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff Sgt. Tong Duong)
Bird bang is one dispersal tool 8th Fighter Wing flight safety members use at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, to rid the flight line and surrounding area of birds. The 12-gauge bird bang is equivalent to an M-80 firecracker and is fired in the general area of the birds. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff Sgt. Tong Duong)
by Staff Sgt. Tong Duong
8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
10/17/2012 - Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea -- -- DUCK !
Piloting a jet at hundreds of miles per hour, pilots literally duck from feathered creatures, especially during the month of October.
"Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea is on the migratory paths for many birds that will fill up the airfield, creating a dangerous environment when planes are flying around," said Master Sgt. Keith Kollasch, 8th Fighter Wing, non-commissioned officer for flight safety.
According to the www.birdskorea.com website, approximately 500,000 migrant birds of 40 types visit between mid-October and March, including many uncommon migratory birds including Baikal teals, wild ducks, mallards, and wild geese.
Due to the uptick of migratory birds, wing safety members like Kollasch, are busier than usual this time of year.
"Flight safety is usually out several hours at a time, throughout the day to disperse the birds," he said. "There have been 33 deaths in the Air Force attributed to bird strikes, so we do our best to keep that from happening here at Kunsan."
Birds and aircraft do not mix, especially when in flight, so flight safety members use different dispersal techniques. Simply stopping a vehicle near a bird-resting site or firing bird bangs from a shotgun is enough drive them away temporarily. The 12-gauge bird bang is equivalent to an M-80 firecracker and is fired in the general area of the birds.
For trouble areas, the use of lethal bird depredation methods may be used as a last resort.
"When there are a lot of birds on the airfield, it's frustrating because it seems like we're just chasing them from one end to the other and back, but that's just the nature of the job when you are working with animals," Kollasch said. "You just don't know what they will do."
The 8th FW averages two to three bird strikes a months according to Kollasch, October being the most critical. With several hundred ducks migrating through the airspace a day, it is a hazard to the Wolf Pack.
"We do our best to make sure our job is complete before heading back to the office," he said. "Our job is to provide a safe environment for our pilots to fly in ."