BERKELEY (CBS SF) — The supersonic, low-flying Navy fighter jet seen buzzing over Berkeley Tuesday afternoon was reportedly flown by the brother of a UC Berkeley graduate student.
Shortly after the story was posted on local news website Berkeleyside, a commenter posting as “TheCulprit” said the pilot was his brother.READ MORE: California Drought: Healdsburg Bans Sprinklers; Sets Personal Water Use To 74 Gallons A Day
“It was an awesome show,” he wrote. Berkeleyside confirmed the man is a UC Berkeley student. In an email, he said his brother is moving to Texas in a couple of days and, “…thought it would be cool to fly over campus while I was there before he left. Not that much to the story unfortunately.”
Witnesses, some who said they saw the fighter jet as low as 300-500 feet and “rocking” as it flew over Berkeley, were quick to chime in on the experience.
“Apilot” wrote: “That’s awesome! Tell your brother that plenty of Berkeley residents appreciated the pass, despite the fact that it harshed the vibe of some local crunchies who were in the middle of bikram yoga. My best friend flies the EA-18 and I love visiting his base to hear them do their thing. I wish we had that kind of jet noise every day in East Bay.
But other residents were not so enthusiastic.
A local resident identified as JG wrote: “What happened this afternoon terrified me and my children. They were in their classrooms at BHS and Longfellow the the plane screamed over their heads. In my younger child’s class, children began screaming out of fear.”READ MORE: Update: One Killed, Two Injured When Truck Crashes Into Diners at San Jose Sports Bar
While radar indicated the military jet 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.
FAA regulations require the plane to remain 1,000 feet above any obstacle.
The jet fighter flew from Naval Air Station Lemoore, south of Fresno. On Wednesday, the base commander responded to the 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.”
It remains unclear when the pilot began his ascent, and whether he maintained the required 1,000 foot clearance over the Berkeley Hills.
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.MORE NEWS: San Francisco Police Arrest Serial Burglary Suspect