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5 times pilots got in trouble for having fun in the sky

The EA-18 crew that did an American Vandal-inspired move in the sky is likely to face some heat from brass who have no sense of humor. I mean, it w…
Harold C. Hutchison Avatar

The EA-18 crew that did an American Vandal-inspired move in the sky is likely to face some heat from brass who have no sense of humor. I mean, it wasn’t like they did anything unsafe (which the FAA admits), but they’re likely to get in trouble for their move.

They won’t be the first, though.

Here are some times pilots got in trouble for their fancy flying.

5. World War II: Richard Bong in San Francisco

Richard Bong was America’s top ace in World War II, scoring 40 kills while flying the P-38 Lightning. However, if they’d applied today’s standards back then, he’d have been in trouble. According to the April, 1985 issue of Flying Magazine, he was reprimanded for doing a loop around the center section of the Golden Gate bridge and waving to secretaries during low passes over San Francisco.

Lockheed P-38 Lightning. (USAF photo)

4. 1996: RAF pilot Nicholas Paine

Nicholas Paine got permission from his parents to buzz their house in a Bae Hawk, which was in an authorized low-level flight zone. However, neighbors didn’t care for the sound of freedom. He was court-martialed, and after being convicted in March 1996, he was fined 500 pounds and severely reprimanded. The Independent reported that the verdict was overturned the next year.

A CT-155 Hawk advanced trainer. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

3. 2002: Two unidentified F-16 jocks over Manhattan

In February 2002, residents of Manhattan were awakened by the sound of two jets making a low pass over the city at 4:30 A.M. The F-16s from the 147th Fighter Wing of the Texas Air National Guard had been deployed to Atlantic City, where they were flying combat patrols as part of Operation Noble Eagle. The next month, the New York Post reported the pilots had been sent back to Texas.

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the 18th Aggressor Squadron at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, May 4, 2016, takes off from the base during RED FLAG-Alaska (RF-A) 16-1. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Turner)

2. 2011: A T-38 pilot over Iowa City, Iowa

Flybys during sporting events around the end of the national anthem have become quite common. But one in Iowa City was notable for a flight of four Air Force T-38 clearing the stadium’s press box by 16 feet. All six pilots on board were reprimanded, and the flight lead lost his wings.

A T-38 Talon. (U.S. Air Force photo)

1. 2016: Four A-10 pilots over Charlotte

When four A-10s from the 74th Fighter Squadron 23rd Wing made a low pass over the Charlotte Panthers’ stadium on their way back from a routine navigation exercise in 2016, there was a fuss. While the incident was being investigated, the pilots were off flight duty, meaning the only thing they could fly were desks.

A-10s buzzing Charlotte. (Video screenshot)

So, yeah, flight antics get folks in trouble. Hopefully, it won’t be too rough for the EA-18 crew from Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, but the odds are not in their favor.