UPDATED: BERKELEY (CBS SF) — An F/A-18 Super Hornet Navy fighter jet buzzed Berkeley Tuesday, and created quite the buzz on Twitter as its fast and loud flyover got plenty of attention.
One observer reported the jet as low as 300-500 feet. While radar indicated the plane only dipped to 2500 feet, it should be noted that the Berkeley Hills rise 1754 feet –which could put the pilot closer to the ground than first reported depending on when he began his ascent out of Berkeley’s airspace. UC Berkeley’s campus is mostly below 500 feet, with some buildings higher up on the hill.
“I thought it may have been an earthquake. Pretty much the entire building was shaking,” said Ryen Banihashemi. “I thought maybe some people were running on the roof, honestly I had idea. It was that loud.”
The jet fighter flew from Naval Air Station Lemoore, south of Fresno. On Wednesday, the base commander responded to complaints.
Public Affairs Commander Jeannie Groeneveld told KPIX 5, “To answer your question, A U.S. Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet from Naval Air Station Lemoore, California, flew at 2,500-3,000 feet over Berkeley at approximately 2 p.m. PST Jan. 27. The F/A 18 was under Federal Aviation Administration control throughout the training flight. While training missions in the local area are common and the pilot was under positive FAA control, the U.S. Navy is investigating the flight to ensure the aviator complied with all FAA and U.S. Navy regulations.”
The “familiarization flight” requires the pilot to fly by looking outside the aircraft instead of relying on instruments, and this involved transitioning to a lower altitude
Ian Gregor from the FAA confirms that, “FAA regulations require airplanes to be at least 1,000 feet above the nearest obstacle when flying over densely populated areas. My understanding is the F-18 never got below 2,500 feet.”
That’s not what locals observed, however, expecially given the 1754 foot height of the Berkeley Hills.
Many people wondered about the flight path and nature of the flight, some seriously, others in true Berkeley fashion.
Berkeleyside, a local news website serving the East Bay, was flooded with questions and concerns.
The Boeing F-18 Super Hornet is an extremely powerful twin-engine jet fighter often used on aircraft carriers. It flies over 1100 miles per hour, for as far as 2,000 miles.
It’s called a “first day of the war solution,” in this Armed Forces Update video.