Biloxi officials mocked over solution to bird droppings on Apollo 13 astronaut statue

Biloxi officials mocked over solution to bird droppings on Apollo 13 astronaut statue

One has to wonder what Fred Haise is thinking.

Maybe: “I nearly died in space for this?”

Haise, the legendary Apollo astronaut who was aboard the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission in 1970, is a Biloxi, Miss., native and in February 2022 the City of Biloxi honored its native son by unveiling a statue of Haise in his Apollo spacesuit in a beachfront parking lot near the Biloxi lighthouse.

But seagulls and other flighted creatures soon discovered the statue, particularly the head, was an ideal perch upon which to rest when they weren’t scavenging food left behind or unattended by beachgoers.

What the birds were leaving behind on the statue, however, was becoming a problem. Their caked-on droppings have caused discoloration of the statue, prompting City officials to take action.

But the solution may be worse than the problem, at least in the eyes of many residents.

The City of Biloxi had spikes attached to the head and helmet of the statue of Fred Haise it unveiled in 2022 to keep seagulls and other birds off the tribute to the Apollo astronaut.

The City had several inch-long spikes attached to both the statue’s head and the space helmet it holds in its arm, giving the Haise doppelganger a look more in keeping with a science fiction movie than a real astronaut.

Several social media posts about the spiked-head statue have popped up in recent days, with comments ranging “Looks like a punk rock astronaut. Who thought this was a good idea?” to “WHT is happening here?” to “Does the City lack the funds to pressure wash the statue?”

Others have suggested it looks like something out of the movie “Mad Max” or perhaps “Hellraiser.”

The City’s public affairs manager, Cecilia Dobbs-Walton, told WLOX the spikes were attached after other methods of keeping the birds away failed, although she didn’t elaborate on what other methods were tried.

“There’s no birds landing on it,” Dobbs-Walton told the outlet. “There are no birds that seem to be harmed around the area, so as of right now, there’s no birds on there.”

Whether it’s actually working or not appears irrelevant to many, however, including retired longtime Biloxi public relations director Vincent Creel.

“It’s the birds vs. the birdbrains and you can see who is winning,” Creel posted to Facebook.

Haise, now 89, still resides on the Mississippi coast and has been very active with the Infinity Science Scenter at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Hancock County. He was present for the statue unveiling last year.

In addition to serving as Lunar Module pilot for Apollo 13, Haise also served as a test pilot for the Space Shuttle program, flying five missions in 1977 before retiring from NASA in 1979. He went on to work as a test pilot and executive for Grumman Aerospace Corporation until 1996.

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