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F-16 Fighting Falcon News

Viper driver grounded for barrel roll at Fenway Park

April 11, 2008 (by Lieven Dewitte) - A Vermont Air National Guard pilot who took part in a fly-over of the Boston Red Sox baseball team ballpark during opening day ceremonies has been grounded for making an improper maneuver near the park.

USAF F-16C block 25 #83-1165 from the 134th FS. This is an updated picture of the first F-16C to fly 7,000 hours. This jet also participated in the much publized fly-over at Fenway park on April 8th where a pilot in a different jet did an unauthorized barrel roll over the stadium. This picture was taken at Hanscom AFB when the pilots returned from the fly over of fenway. Note the 7,000 hour decal on the tail. [Photo by Dunk]

Three Fighting Falcons from the Vermont Air National Guard's 158th Fighter Wing flew in formation over Fenway Park at the conclusion of the national anthem on opening day at the park (April 8th). Then, a fourth F-16 (83-1165) came up from behind the formation, swooping underneath and then barrel-rolling over the top of the trio.

The crowd cheered, but the maneuver got the pilot grounded.

The F-16 pilot flew under and over the other three F-16s in the formation at about 1,200 feet over Boston Tuesday afternoon because he was going too fast and he was late joining the formation, said Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Lloyd Goodrow.

Goodrow said it was a legitimate maneuver and not an acrobatic stunt. "It is normally done at 5,000 feet or above," Goodrow said. "The crowd loved it, but it was not a planned maneuver."

"At no time was the public in danger," Goodrow said. "Our pilot is a very skilled pilot. He maintained full control of the airplane."

After the four pilots landed and debriefed at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., they flew back to their home station in Burlington, Vt., where the fourth pilot was grounded indefinitely.

The grounding was handed out "not as a punishment but so we can provide remedial training in tactics and procedures so this situation does not happen again," Goodrow said.

The pilot's name and rank are not being released, but he is a "very experienced pilot," Goodrow said.

As for the crowd, the fans loved the maneuver, and neither pilots nor pedestrians were in any danger at any time, Goodrow said.

But "I can promise you they won’t see anything like that again, no matter where we do flyovers," Goodrow said.

Additional images:

USAF 363rd TFW-deployed F-16C #83-1165 nose art. This aircraft flew 42 missions in Desert Storm. [Photo by M. Steadman]
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