This March 2009 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.
Aircraft: Cessna 172. Injuries: None. Location: Cleveland, Miss. Aircraft damage: Substantial.
What reportedly happened: The pilot and a CFI were on an instructional night flight. As the pilot began the descent 10 to 12 miles northeast of the airport, there was a loud bang and the airplane shook.
Both the pilot flying and the flight instructor agreed that the engine gauges and flight instruments indicated normal operation, and there were no changes to the flight characteristics. Upon landing and further examination of the airplane, blood and feathers were observed on the right wing, and substantial damage was incurred to the main spar and leading edge of the right wing.
Probable cause: The inadvertent encounter with a bird in flight.
For more information: NTSB.gov