An Air Force Academy falcon that flew away from a halftime performance at the University of Utah's Rice Stadium Saturday didn't go AWOL.
It just became confused and got lost.The disoriented falcon was waiting when its handler finally located it two hours later in Mount Olivet Cemetery, near the stadium where Air Force and Utah were playing a college football game.
Power lines around the stadium apparently are to blame, said Diana Odneal, of Sandy, whose son, Ryan, was the cadet directing the falcon when it disappeared.
Cadet handlers send flight instructions via transmitters to the falcons, which have receivers attached to their legs.
On Saturday, a falcon named Scarlet had made four low passes over the crowd of 25,000, circling the stadium before swooping down to attack its lure, which Ryan Odneal pulled away at the last second.
Scarlet had just made her fifth and final pass over the western stands when she flew behind the southern stands. The crowd waited for her to return on the eastern side, but she never did.
"They have a lot of trouble with high-powered wires" disrupting communication signals, Diana Odneal said. The falcon also may have become confused because Rice Stadium is enclosed, unlike the Air Force stadium.
Ryan Odneal and another falconer eventually found the bird in the cemetery across from the stadium.
"They were glad to have her back because they spend a lot of time with her," Diana Odneal said. "For some reason (Scarlet) got confused. That's just part of the game. When you have an animal from the wild, you never know for sure what will happen."