The Navy is reporting that a bird struck a large plane used as a nuclear communications hub as it made a “touch and go” at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, destroying an engine.

The E-6B Mercury plane is part of the Navy’s Air Test and Evaluation Squadron Twenty, and “was landing on the runway while conducting a touch and go,” at 3:12 p.m. on Oct. 2, Patrick Gordon, the base’s public affairs officer, said this week.

The plane was making a series of brief touchdowns at Pax River when a bird struck one of its four engines. According to news reports and the base’s spokesperson, the plane is used as a communications hub among the White House, Pentagon and U.S. submarines, and while on the ground, it struck a bird.

“There were no injuries” to those onboard, Gordon said.

He did not know what type of bird was struck, and the incident is still under investigation, he said.

The engine has been replaced and the plane returned to service, according to Gordon, who added that type of plane lands often at Pax River.

Tim Boulay, communications director for Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, described the strike as a “Class A mishap,” estimated at costing more than $2 million.

Bird strikes have happened on and around the base before. The region is in what’s known as the Atlantic Flyway, a major north-south migratory route for many birds.

St. Mary’s County officials in recent years have dealt with large populations of vultures that roost around Lexington Park, as well as a population near the St. Mary’s County Regional Airport in Hollywood.

On Oct. 24, 2006, an F-18 out of Pax River struck a vulture, causing $15,000 in damage to the aircraft. On Aug. 31, 2016, an E2 aircraft from the base struck a vulture, but that caused no damage.

The Navy’s Bird/Animal Strike Hazard program helps protect the pilots and aircraft through various methods, including growing habitat to lure birds away from runways. Boulay said some of the controls actively used include remote-controlled propane canons, horns, pyrotechnics, scarecrows and the inflatable “wacky wavy men.”

The bird strike earlier this month was documented by the Navy Safety Center in a report released last week.

STEM festival set for Saturday at fairgrounds

St. Mary’s public schools’ fifth annual Maryland STEM Festival will be held at the St. Mary’s County Fairgrounds in Leonardtown this Saturday, Oct. 26, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The festival builds awareness of STEM education and related fields and careers by showcasing hands-on activities for children of all ages, exhibitors and demonstrations. The event is free and open to the public. Email Jason Hayes at jwhayes@smcps.org or Colleen Gill at cmgill@smcps.org.

Prehistoric fish makes comeback, DNR says

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources has been awarded more than $700,000 in federal funding to study and monitor the endangered Atlantic sturgeon. The money will be used over three years to continue the department’s tagging and tracking of fall spawning Atlantic sturgeon in the Nanticoke River and Marshyhope Creek.

Until recently, Maryland’s Atlantic sturgeon population was believed to have been decimated. In 2014, biologists discovered a fall spawning adult sturgeon population in the Nanticoke River, making an appearance for the first time in 40 years. Atlantic sturgeon is considered a prehistoric fish, and is currently protected under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Journalist Rezaian to give Bradlee lecture

Jason Rezaian and his wife were detained in their Iranian home in July 2014, and he went on to spend 544 days in Tehran’s Evin prison, released on the same day that the historic nuclear deal between Iran and world powers was implemented. Today, Oct. 23, at 7 p.m., former U.S. correspondent Rezaian will deliver the Benjamin C. Bradlee Distinguished Lecture in Journalism on the topic of his new book, “Prisoner.” The lecture will be held in Auerbach Auditorium of St. Mary’s Hall on the St. Mary’s College of Maryland campus. Presented by the Center for the Study of Democracy, this event is free of charge and open to the public but registration is recommended at www.smcm.edu/bradleelecture.

In search of Leonard Hall graduates for reunion

Leonard Hall Junior Naval Academy is trying to locate members of the Class of 1969 for a 50-year reunion planned for Saturday, Nov. 2. Contact Ray Spradling at sprad1@verizon.net for more information.

Fall volunteers needed

The Leonardtown commissioners are looking for volunteers to assist with upcoming fall and holiday events in town. Volunteers are needed for Trick–or–Treat on the Square on Saturday, Oct. 26; the Veterans Day parade and ceremony on Monday, Nov. 11; First Friday events; and Christmas on the Square and tree lighting ceremony on Friday, Nov. 29.

Volunteers are needed to assist with setup and cleanup, running activities, and preplanning activities. Volunteer opportunities are available for individuals and groups.

Potential volunteers may fill out applications located at the town hall on Washington Street or request a digital copy from Brandy Blackstone at brandy.blackstone@leonardtownmd.gov. For more information, visit www.Leonardtown.SOMD.com or www.VisitLeonardtownMD.com.

Oct. 26 ball in Waldorf to support cancer patients

The third Annual Cancer Survivor’s Masquerade Ball will be held on Saturday, Oct. 26, from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. at Middleton Hall in Waldorf. Sponsored by the John Lancaster & W. Cecil Short Charity Foundation and Tau Lambda Lambda. Proceeds will go to organizations that provide support and treatment for cancer patients. To purchase a ticket or for more information, visit www.cancersurvivorsball.org.

Tree planting campaign underway this month

The Arbor Day Foundation is offering 10 colorful trees and bushes when joining the organization in October. The free trees are part of the nonprofit Arbor Day Foundation’s Trees for America campaign, a program dedicated to environmental stewardship through the planting of trees.

The trees will be shipped at the right time for planting, between Nov. 1 and Dec. 10. The 6- to 12-inch trees are guaranteed to grow or they will be replaced free of charge. Planting instructions will be enclosed with each shipment.

To receive 10 trees, visit www.arborday.org/october or send a $10 membership contribution by Oct. 31 to: Arbor Day Foundation, 10 Colorful Trees and Bushes, 100 Arbor Ave., Nebraska City, NE 68410.

Church to host mystery dinner theater Nov. 1, 2

The comedy/mystery dinner theater, “Who Got The Sheriff?” by Kimberlee Mendoza will be presented Friday, Nov. 1, and Saturday, Nov. 2, at Mt. Zion United Methodist Church in Mechanicsville. Doors open at 6 p.m. and dinner, featuring fried chicken and all the fixings, will be at 6:30 p.m. Tickets $30 and must be reserved by Oct. 28 by contacting Lesley Maguire at 240-298-7227 or Lmaguire@md.metrocast.net. See www.mtzionmech.org.

Submit items for community calendar

Civic groups and other nonprofits can submit items to run in The Enterprise’s community calendar by sending email to jyeatman@somdnews.com. Submissions should include date and time of the event as well as a phone number, email and/or website for readers to find out more information.

Help available for groups

The Nonprofit Institution at the College of Southern Maryland regularly shares resources to assist nonprofit organizations in the region to enhance their effectiveness and achieve success. Grant information and training opportunities can be found at the site www.csmd.edu/community/institutes/nonprofit-institute.

Rent Cove Point Lighthouse

The Cove Point Lighthouse in Calvert County can be rented for three, four or seven nights. The entire lighthouse accommodate up to 16 people; or just one side of the duplex can be rented for up to eight people.

Since this mixed-use lighthouse property on the Chesapeake Bay is still a fully functioning site, in addition to being a vacation rental, it continues to welcome the public for tours of the grounds from 1 to 4 p.m. on weekends and holidays, May through September, and daily June, July and August.

The lightkeeper’s house was originally built in 1828, but enlarged in 1925 to make it a duplex for two keepers and their families. Four acres of the grounds are fenced with a private entrance and direct access to the beach.

For more information and to book a stay, visit www.calvertmarinemuseum.com/218/Cove-Point-Lighthouse-Rental, call 410-326-2042, ext. 17, or email purdyma@co.cal.md.us.

Twitter: @JesseEntNews