Flight-mare: Horse gets loose on cargo plane

Animal escaped its holding pen while the New York-Belgium flight was over the Atlantic

A file photo of a horse being loaded on to a cargo plane. Photo: Mark Chivers
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A Belgium-bound cargo plane was forced to return to New York after a horse bolted from its holding pen in mid-air.

The horse got loose within half an hour of take-off last Thursday evening, when the plane was flying at about 9,400 metres, according to ABC News, which cited an air traffic control recording.

The pilot of the Air Atlanta Icelandic Boeing 747 asked for permission to return to John F Kennedy International Airport after crew members were unable to wrangle the horse into 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 was heard saying.

The 747 pilot had one more request. “I do believe we need a vet – veterinarian, I guess you call it, for the horse upon landing,” he said. “Is that something you can speak to New York about?”

The plane was forced to dump about 20 tonnes of fuel over the Atlantic before it could safely land back in New York.

The flight resumed shortly after the incident and landed in Liege, according to flight tracking website FlightRadar24.

Updated: November 16, 2023, 6:33 PM