In Charlotte, North Carolina at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport, travelers were surprised to see a bald eagle traveling commercial. Clark the Eagle, with the World Bird Sanctuary, was spotted going through TSA earlier this week before boarding for his flight on Southwest Airlines.
According to TSA Southeast’s Twitter postings and photos, TSA stated they knew the eagle would be passing through security which allowed them to screen Clark and his handler. How amazing that Clark knows how to stretch out his wings for a moment or two on command.
Our special guest was Clark the Eagle with the World Bird Sanctuary, who decided to give his wings a break and fly commercial. His airline notified us and we screened him and his handler. Clark is trained to spread his wings, and even showed off a bit during screening.TSA Southeast Twitter
Check out the video:
Here’s Clark’s story:
Clark was hatched at World Bird Sanctuary’s conservation department when we were breeding the then endangered Bald Eagles for release into the wild.
While all of Clark’s siblings were successfully released into the wild, Clark was hatched with scale deformities on his feet. The deformities meant that Clark’s feet would not be properly protected from the cold during the winter, and he would suffer from things like frostbite and loss of toes.
Since Clark is non-releasable, he joined our Eagle Flight Team. Clark started his flight training at a young age, and after months of intensive training, he was ready to begin his career as one of our flying ambassadors.WBS
An event that odd and entertaining at the airport didn’t stay a secret for long, and after the video was posted on Twitter and Instagram, it didn’t take long to go viral. Of course, as always – a bit of good-natured humor always helps.
Questions for Clark’s flight:
- Did he buy the eagle his own seat?
- Could he be heard over all the freedom?
- Does he automatically have TSA precheck? (TSA officers have eagle insignias on their uniforms)
- Is Clark an emotional support eagle?
Just in case you were wondering, Clark had been in a specially adapted cage before arriving at the airport and then returned to his cage after the screening for his flight. Clark is currently one of only four bald eagles who travel to fly at different venues throughout the United States. He weighs about 7½ pounds and has a wingspan of just over six feet according to his handler Daniel Cone.
He began flying at St. Louis Cardinals’ baseball games to the cheers of thousands of fans for the National Anthem. Clark has since flown for numerous high profile events such as graduations, The Horatio Alger Association, the Chicago Bears, and Boeing’s annual event.