ORLANDO, Fla. – What should have been a smooth landing turned scaly when a pilot at Orlando Executive Airport hit an 11-foot alligator that was crossing the runway.
Local pilot Brad Pierce posted a photo to Facebook on Tuesday, showing the lifeless reptile and explaining the information he was given about the incident.
"I was told the pilot was flying a Navajo and the gator jumped up and struck the wing during his landing. The gator was killed instantly and the aircraft sustained damage to the wing," Pierce wrote.
Pierce's post has been shared more than 2,000 times.
The Greater Orlando Aviation Authority said a Piper PA 31 was landing around 2:15 a.m. on Thursday when the plane fatally struck the 11-foot, 500-pound reptile. The gator was killed on impact. The pilot wasn't injured but the aircraft did sustain some damage.
Traffic at the airport was not impacted after the collision or when a trapper removed the animal.
The last time a plane in Florida hit an alligator was in 2013 at Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers, according to the Federal Aviation Authority wildlife strike database. Locally, an alligator was struck at Orlando International Airport on Sept. 12, 2012.
Four total plane versus alligator collisions have been reported at OIA since 1998, the FAA reported.
The FAA does not list any alligator strikes at Orlando Executive Airport.
One animal has been struck at that airport in the past year, and that was a bird on Jan. 28, 2016. A total of 147 animals have been struck at Orlando Executive Airport since 1990, the vast majority of which were birds, including owls, hawks and one bald eagle.