Horse escape forces plane to turn back mid-flight

According to reports from American media, a Belgian cargo plane departing from New York was forced to turn back to John F. Kennedy International Airport due to a horse escaping from its enclosure. 

The incident occurred approximately 30 minutes after takeoff when the plane was flying at an altitude of about 9500 meters, as revealed by footage from the air traffic control system.

The Air Atlanta Icelandic Boeing 747, piloted by a member of the crew, requested permission to return to New York but was unable to secure the horse safely back into its cage.

The pilot can be heard on a recording stating, “We did not encounter a problem related to flying, but we have to return to New York because we were not able to return the horse to its cage.”

Additionally, the pilot requested the presence of a veterinarian upon landing in order to ensure the welfare of the animal.


Before it was able to land, the aircraft had to release approximately 20 tons of fuel over the Atlantic Ocean. Subsequently, the plane resumed its journey and successfully landed at Liège Airport in Belgium the following morning, as confirmed by data from the specialized website “Flight Radar 24”.

The incident serves as a reminder of the unexpected challenges that can arise during air travel, emphasizing the importance of thorough safety measures and secured cargo.

While the horse’s successful escape may have caused some inconvenience and delays, the swift reaction of the pilots and crew enabled the situation to be resolved without any major issues.


As air travel continues to play a vital role in global transportation, incidents like these serve as valuable learning experiences to further enforce the need for stringent protocols and precautions.

By continually assessing and addressing potential risks, the aviation industry can ensure the safety and welfare of all passengers, including unexpected “four-legged” passengers such as the escaped horse in this particular case.

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