Graphic: ‘I have every right to be here’: Mid-air dispute between RAF Marham Tornado and USAF Hercules pilots training over Sculthorpe

Soldiers parachute from a C130 Hercules. Photo: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire Soldiers parachute from a C130 Hercules. Photo: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

Friday, May 16, 2014
4:33 PM

A mid-air argument broke out after a US Air Force pilot accused an RAF jet of flying too close to American parachutists being dropped over Norfolk.

To send a link to this page to a friend, you must be logged in.

US and RAF dispute graphicUS and RAF dispute graphic

The “near miss” incident happened as a Hercules MC130 from Mildenhall was training over RAF Sculthorpe, near Fakenham, while a pair of RAF Tornado GR4s from RAF Marham were flying nearby as part of their own exercise.

The US Hercules pilot felt the British aircraft were flying too close and, although not a threat to his plane, he was concerned about the safety of his parachutists being dropped.

The Tornado pilot responded that he “had every right to be there”, according to a report by the UK Airprox Board, which investigates near-misses.

• Click here to see what happened

The board heard the two planes got to within around 1.6 nautical miles (1.84 miles) of each other, and were around 700ft apart vertically.

But it concludes that both planes were entitled to be operating in the area, and that radar data proved there had been no risk of collision between either the aircraft or the parachutists.

The report says: “The Tornado crews stated that the incident had ‘negligible’ severity; however, the MC130 pilot was clearly frustrated by the continued presence of the Tornados and initiated the Airprox.

“Some members felt that the Tornado pilot could reasonably have been more flexible and could have avoided the less manoeuvrable MC130 by a much wider margin, especially having been advised of its para-dropping activities and the impact that his flight (being only 1.6 nautical miles away at CPA) was having upon them.

“Nevertheless, all members were agreed that the incident was essentially one of perception; the MC130 pilot perceived that the Tornado was too close whilst the Tornado pilot perceived otherwise.

“From the radar picture it was apparent that, in the end, there had been no risk of collision between either the aircraft or the parachutists.”

A submission to the board from the US Air Force says: “We are at a loss to understand why the GR4s chose to carry out GH [general handling] in the block 5-15,000ft in an area where they knew that para-dropping was being carried out from 13,000ft.”

HQ Air Command’s comment says: “For their part, all Tornado crews were visual with the Hercules and maintained adequate separation at all times, including to the rear of and below the aircraft.”

The UK Airprox Board said The board had already recommended better co-ordination between controllers at RAF Marham and the USAF at Mildenhall, but said it was “heartened” to hear this was continuing.

The incident happened in broad daylight, at about 12.30pm on November 7. It has only emerged now, following publication of the report.

0 comments

Comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Norwich Evening News visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Norwich Evening News staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Forgotten your password?

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Norwich Evening News account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Homes24
Jobs24
Drive24
LocalSearch24
MyDate24
MyPhotos24
FamilyNotices24
Weddingsite

loading...

Classifieds, browse or search them online now

The Canary magazine
Order your copy of The Canary magazine

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT