NARRATOR: Birds are a natural enemy for any
aircraft, and they are currently flocking to the Queen Elizabeth: an ideal ocean perch. Coming in to land, Nathan Grey is about to realise he has unwelcome company. RADIO COMMS: Bringing it down 100ft. Slowing the rate of decel. Looking good, small lateral input.
Control, there’s a lot of birds around today. We’ve got birds on the left hand side. Paddles landing, six-five, just be aware there’s a lot of bird activity this afternoon. Ok, bringing it into the hover. NARRATOR: And sure enough, one of these little birds comes far too close for comfort. RADIO COMMS: Oh, bird down the left side. NARRATOR: And faster than the eye
can see, it’s ingested right into the intake fan. The aircraft has been instantly compromised.
Something soft, fluffy and weighing less than an ounce brings the mighty F35 to it’s knees. A tiny little bird could absolutely do damage. It doesn’t take much, sometimes, to damage
an aircraft. To check the engine, they put somebody in the intake to crawl up and see the front end of the engine, just to make sure there’s been no damage to it. The F35 will not fly again until it’s fully checked. The bird would have been instantly vaporised, and the intake fan shows no sign of immediate damage. But, nobody is taking any chances with a hundred-million dollar aircraft. The bird went down the lift fan, so it’s important
that we check this aircraft out, run the engine and the lift fan up to full power to make
sure there’s no damage. The F35 is ok, this time. But the birds keep coming, and they’re
getting bigger. Good evening ladies and gentleman. Some of you have noticed on the upper deck
that there seem to be quite a lot of birds around at the moment. It’s just a reminder
that these are quite dangerous to the aircraft, as you’d expect. In actual fact one of them, today, was sucked into the intakes of the engine. Most importantly, please do not feed them. The most expensive fighter jet in the world needs a lot of looking after. And on the bird front, even nature is lending a hand now. Rather like the ship, starting
to police itself. I saw a falcon. We seen him, he caught one of the little sparrow-sized birds before, and he was munching on that down the back end. He’s munching on all the small ones and keeping the population down. Obviously we don’t want him going down an
intake either. The falcon’s been with us for about two and a half weeks now. He’s fantastic.
I mean he’s the perfection of flight, I mean that really is the development of nature just
there. But what he’s been brilliant at, he’s going out and catching all the little songbirds
we’ve got and keeping away from the aircraft, both the helicopters and the jets. He’s marvellous
but he’s a beautiful looking bird as well. Has he got a rank yet? Not yet, no. But he’s
certainly gained his carrier qualification that’s for sure. His hover alongside three-spot
yesterday was exceptional, whilst eating a bird.