According to MacDill Air Force Base officials, a jet flown by a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration pilot was struck by a 9-inch sheepshead during takeoff in September.
"We were nearing the point in the takeoff where we needed to rotate, or raise the nose of the airplane off the ground, when an osprey with something in its claws flew in front of our aircraft," said Lt. Cmdr. Nick Toth, the NOAA pilot.
The crew of the Gulfstream GIV heard a thud and aborted takeoff, assuming they had hit the bird. The jet was not damaged, and none of the crew was injured.
Instead of bird remains on the runway, though, inspectors found the sheepshead, a silvery fish with black stripes on its sides.
Government researchers being government researchers, they sent the fish and samples from the aircraft's impacted areas off to a Smithsonian lab and confirmed that the fish caused the crater.
"At first, we didn't believe the test results," the pilot told AP. "There was no way we hit a fish during takeoff. I mean, how does something like that even happen?"
The osprey apparently couldn't be reached for comment. He likely would have either laughed maniacally or replied: "Hey, where's my goddamn fish?"
[Photo credit: AP]