Fact Check

Hail Damaged Aircraft

Photographs show an aircraft damaged and forced to land by 'tennis ball-sized' hail.

Published Dec 21, 2006

Claim:   Photographs show an aircraft damaged and forced to land by "tennis ball-sized" hail.

Status:   Real photographs; inaccurate description.

Example:   [Collected via e-mail, 2006]

These photos are of the BaxGlobal plane that had a run in with 'Alberta Hail' last week ... The pilot managed to return and land at the Calgary airport. This damage was inflicted upon the plane 5 minutes into the flight after takeoff from Calgary. After managing to somehow bring the plane to a safe landing, the pilot ... QUIT!!! No shit, he basically got out of the Cockpit and said ... "I quit !!!"

Last night circa 2300 our BAX aircraft flight 705BX encountered severe weather over Alberta Canada. The aircraft was cruising at 35,000 feet when it encountered tennis ball sized hail. The pictures below show some of the damage. All landing lights were destroyed, as was the radar. Amazingly, the engines continued to work. The crew was forced to make a "blind" emergency landing. Upon safe return to the ground the first officer and flight engineer quit. It is expected that the aircraft is a total loss as its structural integrity has been compromised. The ol' Boeing Tri-Motor/Three-Holer made it through though.

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Origins:   As usual, these pictures of a hail-damaged aircraft from August 2006 are a case of genuine photographs accompanied by descriptions full of erroneous details and exaggerations regarding their origins (as the First officer of the described flight disdainfully noted elsewhere).

The essential (corrective) details are as follows:

  • The aircraft pictured did not belong to BAX World, nor was it used
    for flight number 705BX. The plane was a Boeing 727-200 operated by Capital Cargo International Airlines which was en route from Calgary to Minneapolis on the evening of 10 August 2006 when the described incident occurred.

  • The

    plane was climbing from 30,000 to 35,000 feet (not "cruising at 35,000 feet") over Alberta when it encountered severe weather, including thunderstorms and large hail. The size of the hail that hit the aircraft cannot be definitively determined, as none of it was captured or penetrated the craft's windshield.

  • Although the crew declared an in-flight emergency and returned to Calgary International Airport, their landing was not nearly as dramatic as described in the accompanying text. The hail put out about half of the plane's landing lights (not "all" of them), the radar was undamaged (not "destroyed"), and the crew made a routine landing (not a "'blind' emergency landing").
  • The damage suffered by the 727-200 was largely cosmetic (the craft was not written off as a "total loss"), and the plane was back in service the following month. Neither the first officer nor the flight engineer quit his job as a result of the experience.

Last updated:   21 December 2006


David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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