Navy jet pilot who buzzed Berkeley broke no federal rules, officials say

An F/A-18 E Super Hornet demonstrates its capabilities during an air Show at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, San Diego, Calif., on Sept. 30, 2011.


By TONY PERRY | Los Angeles Times (Tribune News Service) | Published: October 27, 2015

When the pilot of a Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet made a loud and low pass over Berkeley back in January, the effect was, well, memorable.

The incident sent “both shock waves and excitement through the community,” the website Berkeleyside reported the next day.

One commenter said that she and her children were terrified. Another thrilled at the “sound of freedom” overhead.

The Navy promised to investigate. The jet was from Naval Air Station Lemoore and was estimated to between 2,500 and 3,000 feet over the college town.

On Monday, the Navy released a statement about its findings about the Jan. 27 incident.

The Navy has determined that the pilot complied with all Federal Aviation Administration rules and Navy safety regulations and had FAA clearance for his elevation and flight path, according to a statement issued by the Naval Air Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet.

Still, Navy brass has called for a Field Naval Aviator Evaluation Board to “examine the aeronautical judgment of the aviator during the flight.”

The board is not a judicial or disciplinary body but does recommend whether an aviator “should retain flight status.” The board’s recommendation, considered part of the aviator’s personnel record, cannot be released, the Navy said.

“The Navy holds its aviators to the highest standards of professionalism,” the statement said.

One commenter at the Berkeleyside website said the pilot was his brother and that he “thought it would be cool to fly over campus” before transferring to a base in Texas.


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