The 12th Flying Training Wing Employs Innovative Bird Control Method to Enhance Pilot Safety

  • Published
  • By Sean Worrell
  • 12th Flying Training Wing

In an innovative move to ensure the safety of its 12th Flying Training Wing (12th FTW) pilots, Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph has begun utilizing methyl anthranilate tree canopy fogging as a proactive and preventative measure to control bird populations within the base. Scheduled fogging time to change to 7:00 p.m. on March 10 after Daylight Savings time change. This initiative approach is a proactive and preventative strategy to mitigate bird strike threats to aircraft, particularly those operated by the 12th FTW.

Bird strikes, which occur when a flying bird collides with an aircraft are due to increasing bird population and the expansion of air traffic. These incidents can lead to engine failure, damaged aircraft, and, in rare cases, emergency landing or accidents putting the pilot in jeopardy.

Methyl anthranilate, a compound commonly used as a grape flavoring agent in many food products, has been selected for its non-toxic properties that’s harmless to humans, pets, and the environment. When dispersed as a fog, it emits a mild grape odor that is effective in deterring birds from the area while being completely harmless to other wildlife.

The decision to use methyl anthranilate comes after careful consideration and consultation with wildlife management and aviation safety experts. The formula, a specially formulated solution, has received approval from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the US Fish and Wildlife Service, underscoring its safety and effectiveness.

The application of methyl anthranilate fogging is part of a broader effort by the Air Force to implement environmentally friendly and sustainable practices across its operations. This method stands as a testament to the military's commitment to innovation, safety, and environmental stewardship.

The 12th FTW previously conducted fogging operations from July to September 2023.  That application focused on moving the birds out of base housing early in the morning to avoid impacting the first aircraft takeoffs for the day. The objective of the current fogging application is to deter the birds from nesting in base housing trees as they migrate back to the area. In coordination with our USDA counterparts, the evening timeframe is the optimum time to accomplish this objective.

For more information on this initiative at JBSA-Randolph, please contact the 12th FTW Safety office at 210-652-2224 or Lt. Col. Timothy Lukianowicz at or 210-652-5672.