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El Monte Police Pilot Discusses His Emergency Landing With KCAL9

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(Credit: CBS)

(Credit: CBS)

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EL MONTE (CBS) — An El Monte police pilot is talking to KCAL9 about the emergency landing he was forced to make when a pigeon crashed through the windshield of his helicopter.

Joe Giunta and an observer were responding to a robbery call about 5 p.m. Tuesday when the helicopter struck the bird, El Monte police Lt. Robert Roach said.

“There was glass, cold air and bird feathers flying all over in a second,” El Monte police Pilot Joe Giunta told KCAL9’s Edward Lawrence. “We definitely heard and felt the impact, and we both felt the Plexiglas hitting us right at the moment of impact.”

Giunta estimated he was flying about 900 feet above ground when the first of two birds struck the helicopter.

“I think the bird came in at an angle as we were flying on that course, and as it came in it impacted the instrument panel right here,” Giunta said.

The bird bounced off the instrument panel and struck his observer’s helmet, which protected the officer from more serious injury.

Giunta spotted Holland Middle School in Baldwin Park and decided to land there, he said.

“What I had to do was kind of spiral the helicopter down into that area,” Giunta said.

Once on the ground, Giunta and his observer found remains of a second bird near the helicopter’s tail rotor.

(©2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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