400 flying cows cause plane to make an emergency landing

Flying cow

If they made it into a big-screen thriller, you could call it Cows on a Plane. A herd of 400 overheating cattle in the cargo hold forced a Boeing 747 to make an emergency landing at London's Heathrow Airport last week, after setting off an alarm that led the pilot to believe the plane was on fire.

Turns out that your sixth grade science teacher wasn't lying -- cows are gassy. And because their body temperatures run higher than ours, if you throw 400 of them into a confined, pressurized space, they can generate enough heat and methane to apparently set off a fire alarm.

At least that was investigators' best guess; after the pilot dispatched a distress signal and executed the emergency landing, technicians inspected the plane and it checked out fine -- no smoke, fire, or beef jerky at all.

Chloe Pantazi is an editorial assistant on Thrillist's travel team, and never makes travel plans with livestock. Follow her on Twitter at @ChloePantazi.

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