Heard a great story today.
Went into school to do a "training session" on drama filming with the young IT apprentice (who's actually about to start a proper job - yay, youngster who's got a job, good for him). No, that's me training him, not him training me. Anyway, clearly a farce, so we ended up chatting about all sorts before we went off to look at the new sound racks which the school has, in its ignorance, bought.
He was telling me that his girlfriend's father, who is probably about the same age as me, used to work at Rolls Royce at Filton, and was on the team testing each new engine. And one of the tests, to simulate a bird strike at 20,000 feet, was to fire frozen chickens into the blades of the engine. And they would spend an entire week just firing frozen chickens. And the whole point was that if any single one of those chickens should cause damage to that engine, then clearly the engine was faulty. No pressure then.
So towards the end of the week when they were feeling pretty confident that the engine was okay, they went to lunch and when they returned the worst case happened. They fired the cannon, and the blades of the engine just all snapped off.
They were devastated. After all, how much was that engine worth? And once you have that tiny shred of doubt then everything becomes much more tenuous.
They studied the CCTV in minute footage. Which is when they discovered that whilst they'd been at lunch a cat had strolled in, climbed into the cannon and fallen asleep. The next shot, once slowed down considerably, showed that the frozen chicken which had been fired was closely followed by a cat. Which had totally demolished the engine.
So it just goes to show that if you're travelling at 20,000 feet and a flock of birds comes towards you then you'll probably be okay, but just a single cat at that altitude and you should be seriously worried.