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Air Force responds to claim fighter jets killed toddler's pony

By WILLIAM HOWARD | STARS AND STRIPES Published: April 19, 2017

LAKENHEATH, England — A Cornwall family says the roar of two low-flying RAF Lakenheath-based jets spooked the family’s pet pony to death, but the U.S. Air Force released in a statement Tuesday that pilots were at the appropriate altitude.

Naomi Brown told local news outlets that her 3-year-old daughter was left traumatized by last week’s incident, which made headlines in one of Britain’s top-selling tabloids, the Daily Mail.

“The horses were galloping around fine at 12:30 p.m., at about 3:30 p.m. the low-flying planes were spotted in the area and at about 4:30 p.m. our pony was found in a very bad state,” Brown told the newspaper.

Brown said an emergency vet was called in, but that it was too late and the animal had “twisted his gut and died before the vet could arrive.”

The U.S. Air Force said Tuesday that two F-15 Eagles were flying in the Cornwall region but couldn’t have flown low enough to startle any animals.

“These aircraft were flying in accordance with the rules and limitations of the UK Low Flying System and would have been no less than 500 feet above the ground,” the Air Force said in a statement.

The incident has been referred to the U.K. Defense Ministry office that handles public complaints about low-flying aircraft.

The Air Force said it would cooperate with any formal investigation into the matter.

howard.william@stripes.com
 

An F-15E Strike Eagle from the 494th Fighter Squadron during take-off at RAF Lakenheath, England, March 29, 2017. A Cornwall family says low-flying F-15s spooked its pony and caused the animal's death.
WILLIAM HOWARD/STARS AND STRIPES

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