Bird strike forces Southwest Airlines flight to return to Tampa International Airport

TAMPA - A Southwest Airlines flight that  had just taken off from Tampa International on Wednesday was forced to return to the airport after a number of birds struck the left wing and fuselage.

The incident occurred around 11:30 a.m. about four miles north of the airport, according to TIA spokesperson Emily Nipps. .

She said it is rare for a plane to have to turn around after a bird strike. But in this case, damage to the aircraft was so severe the pilot had to return.

Photos provided by TIA shows a large hole in the leading edge of the wing and scrapes on the fuselage near the emergency exit.

Passengers were rebooked onto other flights.

There was no immediate word on what kind of bird species was involved.

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