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A Boeing 747 flying from the United States to Belgium had to turn around after a horse in the cargo hold escaped.

The flight left JFK Airport in New York and had climbed to 31,000 feet already when the pilot had to contact Air Traffic Control in Boston.

CNN reports that the pilot made contact and reported the incident: “We don’t have a problem (…) flying-wise, but we cannot get the horse back secured”.

The cargo flight was operated by charter airline Air Atlanta Icelandic and had 15 horses onboard.

It’s believed one of the horses escaped when the flight was struck by turbulence. The horse jumped halfway over the high front barrier of the stall and got stuck with his front legs on one side of the barrier and his back legs on the other side.

John Cuticelli, the head of animal quarantine and export at JFK said it was a very unfortunate event.

“It’s only the second time in all the years I’ve been doing this that I’ve ever seen that happen. And we do thousands of horses a year. A very unfortunate event – but that horse was spooked.”

The pilot wanted to turn around and head back to JFK, but because the plane was too heavy to land, it had to dump 20 tons of fuel first. He also requested for a vet to meet them at the airport as they had “a horse in difficulty”.

Once the horse was rescued and safely on the ground, it was determined that its injuries were too severe and that it probably wouldn’t survive the ordeal. It was euthanised.

Image credit: Sportskeeda

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