The highest recorded flying bird was a vulture called Ruppell's griffon. In 1975, one of these birds — with its 10-foot (3-meter) wingspan — was recorded flying at an altitude of 37,900 feet (11,552 meters). Unfortunately, this is known because the bird was sucked into a jet engine — there was some damage to the plane, but it landed safely.
More high-flying facts:
- Mount Everest is 29,028 feet (8,848 meters) high, about a mile and half lower than the Ruppell's griffon flew.
- Other birds that fly routinely fly higher than Mount Everest include Bar-headed geese, whooper swans and bar-tailed godwits.
- The highest flying bird in North America was recorded in 1963 when a mallard hit an airplane flying at 21,000 feet (6,401 meters) over Nevada.
- The highest living land dweller, a jumping spider, also is up there at 22,000 feet (6,706 meters) on Mount Makalu.