Published On: Thu, Sep 12th, 2019

Skydive horror: F15 jets in near-miss with parachutists at 13,000 feet | UK | News


The terrifying incident was revealed in a report by Airprox Board, who assess midair air safety. The near-miss took place above Chatteris Airfield on April 17 this year. The report said the skydivers were free falling at around 120mph when they were narrowly missed by the US jets.

The jets, which were travelling at 35mph, had taken off from the US Air Force base at Lakenheath.

The report said: “The parachutists themselves were not able to alert the F15 pilots, and it was noted that the para-dropping aircraft was wearing the appropriate paradropping squawk which would normally act as a reminder to controllers that paradropping was underway.

“The Board was shown Go-Pro footage filmed from the helmet of one of the parachutists and could clearly see the F15s passing beneath, although it was difficult to assess the actual distance because of lack of information about the likely wide-angle lens focal-plane foreshortening.

“Once the parachutists had seen the F15s there was very little they could do to avoid the situation, having no control over their speed or direction whilst in free-fall, although some members wondered whether if it had been a particularly close encounter then the parachutists may well have been prompted to open their parachutes early to arrest their descent.”

“As they overflew the drop site, it was unlikely that the pilots would have been able to see the parachutists and take avoiding action, and in this case they were unaware that they had flown beneath them.”

The jets had entered the airfield without being able to contact air traffic controllers at Lakenheath.

However the report said, as the airfield was in the region surrounding their own air base, they should have been aware.

The US Air Base has now re-briefed its pilots.

The Board rated the incident as ‘B’ on a risk scale – with ‘A’ the most severe and ‘E’ the least.



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