On February 27, 1998, about 2015 eastern standard time, a Mooney M20J, N1173N, was substantially damaged when it collided with a goose while on approach to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport, Avoca, Pennsylvania. The certificated private pilot was not injured. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the personal flight that originated at Bedford, Massachusetts, about 1830. The flight was conducted on an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan under 14 CFR Part 91.

In the NTSB Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident Report, the pilot reported that he was at 4,000 feet, being vectored for the ILS approach when the bird strike occurred. He further stated:

"...I heard a thud and the airplane suddenly dropped in a hurry. I noticed a very large deflection on the VSI, probably 1,500 FPM, maybe more, maybe less...I pulled hard on the yoke and eventually was able to level the plane. Trim adjustment relieved the down pressure, steering seemed a little funny, but I could place the problem I would bank, but not turn very sharply...."

The pilot then requested to proceed directly to the airport and landed without incident. After engine shutdown, the pilot exited the airplane and found a goose imbedded in the vertical stabilizer. He also stated in the NTSB Report:

"...I had hit a very large goose; squarely in the middle of the Mooney tail, just above the middle set of rivets...The rudder was binding and the whole...[tail] section would bend when I pressed the rudder pedals...The goose impact had rotated the tail around the bolt so that the horizontal stabilizer was in a strong nose down attitude...."

A check of the airport NOTAMS found the following:

"A110-3 BIRDS ON & INVOF ARPT." [Birds on and in the vicinity of the airport.]

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