Security officers at Charlotte Douglas International Airport in the US witnessed the impressive bald eagle on his back from meeting some students at North Carolina’s High Point University
A gigantic bald eagle has entered the list of the strangest passengers to travel through airport security.
Over the years bag checkers at travel hubs around the world have unearthed a variety of weird and wonderful visitors.
One man was caught trying to smuggle 163 types of tropical fish onto a plane, while in 2014 someone flying into Vermont was stopped with a to-scale Thor’s hammer.
More recently a passenger traveling to Bangkok Airport from Bangladesh was apprehended after security discovered seven freshwater baby crocodiles hidden in their suitcase.
Last week airport security at Charlotte Douglas International Airport found themselves thrown into the world of unusual bits of luggage.
A huge American bald eagle called Clark made his way through security at the North Carolina airport accompanied by his handler.
The bird left fellow travellers stunned as he was rolled through the metal detector – and he even stretched out his sizeable wings.
Bald eagles can grow up to 3ft in height and have a wingspan of 6.5ft – which is longer than most men are tall.
In 1963 there were just 417 breeding pairs left in the United States and bald eagles were added to the endangered species list in 1978.
Happily their number has rocketed over the last decade and there are now thought to be more than 300,000 in the US.
Clark was heading through the airport to make an appearance at North Carolina’s High Point University apparently to wish the new students luck for their coming studies.
His appearance was significant as bald eagles are the national animal of the US.
In order to return home, Clark flew back to the World Bird Sanctuary in Missouri – and so had to have his bags and pockets checked like everyone else.
“I’m sure the team at CLT Airport Checkpoint A did a double take when they saw a real one earlier this week,” TSA’s Southeast Region noted.
“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.”
Clark hatched in 2002 as part of a breeding programme, but was born with deformities to his feet that meant he was unable to be released into the wild as was originally intended.
Now, he lives at the World Bird Sanctuary and is flown across the US to be a “flying ambassador”.
The World Bird Sanctuary sits on 305 acres of forest and provides housing for non-releasable birds as well as a rehabilitation hospital for injured birds of prey.
It runs conservation breeding programmes to ensure the survival of endangered species and runs a series of education programmes.