Bird Not to Blame for Oprah's Plane Mishap

UPDATED 12/28/2005 at 11:45 AM EST Originally published 12/28/2005 at 07:00 AM EST

Bird Not to Blame for Oprah's Plane Mishap
Oprah Winfrey
Michael A. Mariant/AP
Aviation officials were wrong to pin Oprah's Winfrey's private plane problem on a bird – previously accused of cracking the windshield of the media queen's Gulfstream jet on Monday.

"It's unlikely a bird was involved,” Santa Barbara Fire Department spokesman John Ahlman told PEOPLE.

As had been reported originally, Winfrey's Gulfstream jet was forced to return to California's Santa Barbara Municipal Airport after its windshield cracked because it hit a bird, officials said.

"The pilot did tell my captain that he felt it was a fatigue thing with the glass," Ahlman told the Associated Press.

Winfrey and boyfriend Stedman Graham were not injured, though the fictitious bird apparently was – as was the plane, which was to remain grounded until its windshield can be repaired.

The collision occurred around 12:30 p.m. Monday just after take off. "This is not a totally unusual thing," Ahlman said of the cracked windshield. "We see these things pretty frequently."

Winfrey lives near Santa Barbara in a Montecito mansion that sits on 42 acres in the hills. She bought the property five years ago.

As for Winfrey and Graham, "they were in good spirits," Ahlman told PEOPLE. "And they went on their way."

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