Thursday, March 24, 2011

Low But NOT Slow

From today's AFA Daily Report:
Too-Low Flyover Draws Referee's Flag: Maj. Christopher Kopacek, a 25th Flying Training Squadron pilot at Vance, AFB, Okla., has received nonjudicial punishment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice for violating altitude and speed restrictions when he led a four-ship of T-38s that overflew a University of Iowa football game in Iowa City last November. Kopacek is separating from the Air Force of his own accord, according to a release Wednesday from Vance's 71st Flying Training Wing. "While I understand that fans attending the game enjoyed the flyover, rules are in place to ensure everyone's safety," said Col. Russell Mack, 71st FTW commander. He added, "[T]his was a serious breach of flight discipline and it was necessary to take administrative action." Among the violations, the wing's command-directed investigation found that the pilots flew only 16 feet above the stadium's press box when the minimum height difference for a flyover is supposed to be 1,000 feet.
I have mixed emotions about this.  First: An Article 15 seems pretty harsh when a letter of reprimand or even a "What the HELL do you think you were doing?" appearance on the carpet might have sufficed.  But perhaps there are other reasons for the NJP (prior offenses, piss-poor attitude or performance, yadda, yadda) and that's usually the case.  Sceond:  Sixteen feet?  Damn!  THAT must have been LOUD!  Third:  The major is voluntarily separating?  While probably true in the literal sense, the man had no choice as his career is OVER.  No O-5 for YOU, Sir.  I suppose this is how airline pilots are made...

And there's video (source), too:

Yup... that was LOW.  


  1. Wish I was there to see that first-hand. Would've been awesome. Plus, I think the T-38/F-5 family are the best looking jets ever.

  2. Okay, I loved that! I would love to have been there in person - up close and personal.

  3. I think the T-38/F-5 family are the best looking jets ever.

    I'm more of an F-86 guy, Inno.

    Lou: You and me BOTH!

  4. And the Marine Harrier jet pilot who flew over Camp Los Pulgas circa 1984 at 6am on a Sunday morning at an estimated altitude of a rat’s hair is rather pleased with himself after seeing this.

    Yeh, all is fun till someone loses an eye...or a $20 million jet...killing thousands...

  5. I say if you're gonna put on a show, then put on a show, or don't bother. Another guy out to pasture for doing a good job!

  6. Yeh, all is fun till someone loses an eye...or a $20 million jet...killing thousands...

    Incidents like that are rare to non-existent, tim. Even the worst airshow catastrophe... I'm thinking something like Ramstein... killed less than a hundred people, 67 to be exact. Flyovers are pretty harmless exercises and the guys that do them are serious pros.

    Dan: Agreed, in principle. If ya chased that "source" link you'll note the major was gonna retire after that flight... but civilians often don't know the difference between separation and retirement.

  7. When you are flight lead, your wingmen depend on you to do the right thing, because they are hugging and watching your plane only. They don't have time to look around.

    At 250 knots, "stuff" happens fast.

    Many will recall the B-52 that crashed in Spokane. The pilot was a hot shot. He did stuff that scared the normal person. Other pilots refused to fly with him.

    He finally found a co-pilot and crew who needed the flight hours, and sadly the co-pilot ejected too late. The rest of the crew went in with the ship, while the co-pilot rode his ejection seat into the fireball.

    I think it was the wingmen who all said, we're done with him - thanks...

  8. Wow. "Loud" is one adjective to describe this. "Whiplash" might be one to describe the observers.


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