Saturday, December 08, 2012

Pilot on 'no-fly' status after incident over suburbs (With Video)

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa -   An F-15 fighter pilot with the Florida National Guard put on an impromptu air show in the skies over the western Des Moines suburbs Tuesday morning.

"It was coming down really fast -- and then it seemed to me like at the last possible second it banked hard left and then went vertical at full throttle -- and I was like, "Holy cow!" I turned around and I look and the engine boosters are just glowing bright, bright orange. The windows were rattling. It was definitely a wake-up call," said witness Bree Spradling.

Spradling said it lasted less than 30 seconds and happened around 10 a.m. She said the jet came close to homes in a heavily populated Waukee neighborhood.

"It was very close. Way closer than it ever should have been for any reason," Spradling said.

"It felt like it was right on top of me," said witness Willie Knolmayer.

"For a minute I thought it was going to crash. But then he banked hard to the left and you could just feel the power of the engines and he went up vertical -- like I said my windows were shaking in my office -- you could feel it in your chest," Spradling said.

Federal Aviation Administration radio transmissions indicated the pilot went by the call name Venom 01.

Radar showed the pilot did a couple of tight turns and took off. It rattled windows for miles.

"I was like, 'Oh holy cow. What's going on? Did you guys see that?'" Spradling said.

When the Florida Air National Guard heard about the incident, it contacted the pilot immediately.

Lt. Col James Evans said the pilot acknowledges flying his jet over the western suburbs and an investigation is underway to determine how low he was flying.  Radar records will be able to determine his altitude and speed, officials said.

The Guard is now investigating and the pilot was sent back to Jacksonville, Fla., on a commercial flight.

"Somebody is going to have a little talking to with the pilot," Spradling said.

The Florida National Guard said there were no mechanical problems with the jet and it wasn't going to crash. The pilot was headed from Jacksonville to Sioux City so his jet could get painted.

"It's a very heavily populated area you don't want anything to happen at all. If somebody was playing tricks or games or wanted a thrill ride this is not the place to do it at all," Spradling said.

FAA radio traffic indicates that the pilot went off his instruments and asked to fly at varying altitudes. He was told he could fly at his discretion. Minutes later, he was told to continue on to Sioux City.

Aircraft must be 1,000 feet or higher over populated areas.

The pilot has been placed on a no fly status until the investigation is completed.

Story, video, reaction/comments:

No comments:

Post a Comment