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Pilots in Kinnick flyover to be disciplined

[ 8 ] March 23, 2011 |

Four Air Force pilots will be disciplined for flying too close to the ground during a ceremonial flyover before the Iowa-Ohio State football game on Nov. 20.

Maj. Christopher Kopacek, a pilot from Ankeny with the 25th Flying Training Squadron, violated four codes and plans to leave the Air Force, according to a news release from Vance Air Force Base in Enid, Okla.

Kopacek was the only pilot to waive his right to privacy. The other three pilots received punishment but their violations and sanctions will not be disclosed, said Vance spokeswoman 1st Lt. Katie Roling.

The 71st Flying Training Wing investigation completed its investigation of the flyover involving four T-38 aircraft on Dec. 20. The jets screamed over the stadium, appearing to dip into Kinnick, and just cleared the south scoreboard.

Kopacek received non-judicial punishment under Article 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and he has requested giving up his aeronautical rating, which is still pending, and he will separate from the Air Force of his own accord, according to the news release.

According to the release, Kopacek was found to have violated:

* Flying above the speed of 300 knots below 10,000 feet mean sea level for the practice flyover Nov. 19, 2010, and the actual flyover Nov. 20, 2010.

* Flying over a congested area below 1,000 feet above ground level above the highest obstacle within 2,000 feet of the aircraft on Nov. 20, 2010.

* Failing to verbally report the flight deviations to a supervisor or commander within 24 hours of the flight deviation and failing to make a detailed written record within 24 hours.

* Making a false official statement to investigators during the course of the investigation.

Vance initiated the investigation on Nov. 24, and all four pilots and two ground controllers were removed from flying status until the investigation was complete, according to the release.

According to the investigation, the highest elevation of the stadium is at the northwest corner of the press box, which is 160 feet above ground level. Cedar Rapids Approach Control verified that the aircraft cleared the scoreboard, which is 118 feet above ground level by 58 feet and were 16 feet above the press box, which put them at 176 feet above ground level. That is well below the minimum 1,000 foot standard.

The practice flyovers approached 400 knots, which is above the maximum speed of 300 knots.

“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. “We appreciate the opportunity to perform flyovers and thank the University of Iowa for the chance to showcase our abilities. However, this was a serious breach of flight discipline and it was necessary to take administrative action against all of the members involved.”

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

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