Landing on the Harbor Visual Runway 29 Approach into KPWM can be a 95-second joy ride if the time of day and the time of year are just right. For us, that flight, it was.
I flew the crowded 50-seat regional jet in a descending arc, starting at Elizabeth City, Maine. We traveled north along the Maine coast past the airport, giving the passengers views of the cobalt blue Casco Bay and the mossy green Ram and Peaks Islands, before we banked left and headed south along the coast, over the narrow, inky blue Portland Harbor.
“Glorious,” crowed the captain.
“Birds,” was my reply. I pointed to a small flock of large, brown waterfowl taking wing from the run-up area of Runway 29 off my starboard side.
“They’ll be gone before you cross the fence,” he assured me.
Cleared to land, I banked right into a smooth intercept of the localizer needle. Gliding over the airport perimeter, I let the jet drift left of the runway center line.
“What are you doing? Center line!”
“Birds,” I replied, just as three big birds arrowed straight for us. I evaded two before crossing the numbers. I swung back toward center line. I heard a resounding “THUNK.”