The FAA says that airplanes and birds collide about 40 times a day, but it up to now it hasn't had statistics on collisions with bears. Now it does, and the answer is: Once in a lifetime.
Unfortunately for the bear, it was the bear's lifetime, as the very sizable adult bear did not survive its collision with the engine cowling of the Alaska Airlines plane that was landing at Yakutat Saturday evening. A two-year-old cub that had also wandered onto the runway survived.
The plane was not unscathed; because of the damage the next leg of its flight, to Juneau, was scrubbed. Repairs are expected to take a couple of days. Alaska Fish and Game officials believe the bear collision is a first, although there have been incidents with deer, geese and even a caribou.