Bird Strikes Plague Ops in Iraq

The Air Force has enlisted the help of the Smithsonian Institution to identify the birds that present a hazard to aircraft operating in Iraq. The service has worked with Smithsonian experts for years, shipping to the institute’s Museum of Natural History samples of bird feathers, tissue, and blood for analysis, but it has just recently sent off its first samples from Iraq. According to TSgt. David Young, deployed from Elmendorf AFB, Alaska to the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing Safety Office as NCO in charge of flight safety, safety personnel at Balad AB, Iraq, don’t have the data at hand that they need to “establish what the species are and their migratory routes” to aid in control efforts. The Smithsonian will gain from this exchange, too, since it has only eight specimens from Iraq in its database of some 620,000 bird specimens. (Balad report by 1st Lt. Lisa Spillnek)