Massive Bald Eagle Surprised Passengers at North Carolina Airport — See the Incredible Video

Meet Clark, the bald eagle.

Clark the Bald Eagle at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport

Travelers at a Charlotte Douglas International Airport checkpoint got quite the sight when a bald eagle passed through security last week, spreading his wings and showing off. 

The eagle, named Clark, was heading home to the World Bird Sanctuary in Missouri after making an appearance at North Carolina’s High Point University to wish its new freshman class luck, the university tweeted. That’s when Clark and his handler surprised some unsuspecting travelers and equally stunned TSA agents.

TSA officers are used to seeing an eagle on their uniform as they look over their shoulder, but I’m sure the team at @CLTAirport Checkpoint A did a double take when they saw a real one earlier this week,” the agency’s Southeast Region shared of the spectacle. “Our special guest was Clark the Eagle with the World Bird Sanctuary, who decided to give his wings a break and fly commercial.  His airline notified us and we screened him and his handler. Clark is trained to spread his wings, and even showed off a bit during screening.”

Clark the Bald Eagle at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport

Courtesy of TSA

Clark is a seasoned traveler as one of only four bald eagles that travel to fly at different venues throughout the country, according to the World Bird Sanctuary.

Clark was hatched at the sanctuary in 2002 as part of a breeding program with the goal of releasing the endangered birds into the wild, but Clark was born with scale deformities on his feet. The deformities would prevent his feet from being protected during the cold of winter and subject him to potential frostbite or even loss of toes. So instead, Clark jumped into flight training and began his career as a flying ambassador.

Since then, Clark has flown at everything from St. Louis Cardinals’ baseball games to a Chicago Bears game, and even an event at Boeing.

In all, the World Bird Sanctuary is home to more than 200 animals representing more than 60 species, stretching across 305 acres. The sanctuary is open daily for visitors and runs special guest experiences like the ability to handle an exotic raptor.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.


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