San Francisco News

FAA responds to low flying jetliner near bridge

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Was it really a close call? The federal government is now talking about a stunt near the Golden Gate Bridge and they are not too comfortable with the FAA's explanation.

There is a clip on YouTube that shows a jetliner closely flying around the Golden Gate Bridge. It was even discussed at length on CNN on Tuesday. Now the FAA is responding to calm down all of the fear.

The low-speed flyover thrilled hundreds, but it scared others enough to call ABC7 and complain.

"I thought it was really in bad taste. Someone thought it was a good idea? I don't think so," said witness Sherry Mills.

Mills was at the Fairmont Hotel when she saw the United 747 passenger jet bank around the Golden Gate Bridge and swoop down over the Marina.

"It was obviously a United commercial jet, which is a little unnerving after 9/11 when you see a jet flying that low towards the city," said Mills.

But the FAA says it approved the flyover in restricted airspace as part of the Fleet Week air show on Oct. 9 and Oct. 10. It says the jumbo jet passed over the span of the Golden Gate Bridge at 1,200 feet and posed no danger.

"I wouldn't consider it to be unsafe under the conditions," says ABC7 aviation expert Ron Wilson.

Wilson says from the crowd's perspective it looked scarier than it really was.

Amateur photographer Daniel Gies shot a photo from Ft. Mason.

"If you see the two from just the right perspective, they look like they're about to collide, but they're so far apart it's just an optical illusion," says Gies.

But when it buzzed the crowd and a flotilla of boats at about 400 feet, Wilson was a little concerned.

"It's not something I would recommend, but obviously you've got probably a senior pilot there that has many thousands of hours and can handle that fine, but it's a little bit scary," says Wilson.

Wilson says a 747 is so cumbersome that if anything goes wrong at that altitude, it is hard to recover and ditching the plane into a bay full of sailboats could be disastrous.

If you examine the video closely, you can tell that the 747 never circled around the Golden Gate Bridge. It was flying on the east side of it the whole time.

(Copyright ©2014 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

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Tags:
fleet week, golden gate bridge, FAA, san francisco news, alan wang
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