Pilots honored for aborted Sitka takeoff

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SITKA, Alaska (AP) -- Two Alaska Airlines pilots have been honored for successfully aborting a takeoff from Sitka last year after an eagle flew into an engine.

Captain Steve Cleary of Federal Way, Wash., and First Officer Michael Hendrix of Seattle received the Superior Airmanship Award last week from the Air Line Pilots Association International.

The Sitka Sentinel http://bit.ly/o6ShW4 reports the community's Rocky Gutierrez Airport has a single 6,500-foot that is nearly surrounded by the Gulf of Alaska.

Cleary and Hendrix on Aug. 8, 2010, began a takeoff in a Boeing 737 with full load of 134 passengers and five crewmembers.

The jet had taxied to about 150 mph when the eagle smashed into the left engine, which exploded and burst into flames.

The crew stopped the jet near the end of the runway.

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Information from: Daily Sitka Sentinel, http://www.sitkasentinel.com/