This is a photo of a low-flying military aircraft allegedly taking near the Santa Monica Pier in California. You hear reports about this kind of stuff in military areas -- but it's almost impossible to document. Needless to say it almost never happens in Burlington.
Got this e-mail last night from a reader in Burlington about something she and others in the city witnessed on Thursday.
“I was wondering if you knew anything about the fighter jets that flew over Burlington today around 2:45 this afternoon. Yes, you read it right, fighter jets. I live on Amherst Avenue, which is off of Edgewood. I was doing several things around the house, waiting to go pick up kids at school, when my windows began to rattle and then the whole house began to shake. My mother, who lives across the street from me, promptly called and was very concerned as to what was going on.
“The noise lessened to some degree but sounded like it was going around the house. I went out into my driveway and looked up and there were 5 fighter jets, silver in color, with up-turned wings and what looked like a spoiler on the back. They were so low ( maybe 25 yards above the tree tops) that I could see the man in the cockpit. When they made their turn, on what looked like their side, one plane seemed as though it was having trouble getting itself back under control. I had no clue whether the pilot was in control or not but called 911 ( please don’t laugh!) because I was unsure if it was going to crash or not. 911 seemed to know nothing about this and they connected me with the police department, who also knew nothing but said they would check. Several other folks that live in nearby neighborhoods heard them and both of my children mentioned it after school ( one is at Smith and the other at Williams). Both commented on how loud the jets were and how low they sounded, as they were in school and could not see the planes.
”One of our dear friends is John Glenn, our former police chief, so I called him and he did some checking and it seems nobody knows anything. My question is, do you know anything about this or if not, could you find out? It was really unnerving to have your windows rattle to the point you are afraid they are going to break and then go outside, look up, and see a fighter jet and the pilot right above you in your happy little neighborhood where fighter jets are not normally found! Please let me know what you find out. I would really appreciate any kind of info you can give me.”
My first thought when I read this last night was how familiar it sounded. After all, I lived in a military area for 15 years — working in Jacksonville and living in Cape Carteret. I was close to Camp Lejeune, Cherry Point Air Station and Bogue Auxiliary Landing Field. Complaints about noise loud enough to shake homes from their foundations and low-flying aircraft were not uncommon and soon became routine. That’s certainly not the case here in Burlington.
One frequent complaint we received at the Daily News in Jacksonville was about military pilots, particularly those from Cherry Point, flying Prowlers underneath the high-rise bridge to Emerald Isle. That’s definitely not in the military handbook as something they’re supposed to do — but they apparently did so anyway, according to witnesses. Problem is, the aircraft move too fast for people to catch any identifying numbers or words so calls to the base were pretty fruitless.
I asked around at the office this morning and found that a couple of people had seen the aircraft, too. Our photographer Sam Roberts said they were indeed flying low and he thought at a slow speed. He also thought they might be Harriers, but wasn’t sure.
My suspicion is that the aircraft were likely headed back to Pope Air Base at Fort Bragg, Cherry Point or Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro from a training exercise in another state. For whatever reason they decided to buzz the area.
But who really knows.
My hunch is there won’t be much information to find out about this. But we’ll see.
And if anyone else saw this please feel free to post a message.
UPDATE: As it turned out we had lots of traffic online and by phone on this subject. A lot of people saw the aircraft. Some reported spotting two while others reported as many as five. Times-News editor emeritus Don Bolden said the pilots circled Elon University twice, which led him to speculate that at least one of the pilots was an Elon grad. All agreed that the aircraft were A-10s.
Burlington police reported a few phone calls — enough to check out what was going on, but had no answers about it on Friday. One of our reporters checked at North Carolina’s military bases and a spokesman at Seymour Johnson in Goldsboro asked for a written request for information. As it turns out, SJ charts all military air traffic over North Carolina. They didn’t get back to us on Friday but probably will next week.
That’s how it goes with media requests and the military.
Then I got this Friday night from the reader who made the original request.
“I have some info for you about the fighter jets. Our friend, John Glenn found out that these planes were A-10 Thunderbolts that were out of Moody Air Force Base near Valdosta, Georgia. They were doing “visual flight training” ( fancy way of saying they were playing) and landed at RDU before taking off and going who knows where.
“It is not every day a fighter jet flies right over so low I can see the pilot in the cockpit. A little scary but still very exciting. I hoped they had ” fun” ” playing”. Thanks for your info. Take care and have a great weekend. ”
Same to all. And thanks.