November 5, 2004

Pilot Error? (Updated)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 12:05 am

F-16.jpgYesterday, an F-16 fighter, piloted by a member of the New Jersey Air National Guard, fired on an elementary school in Little Egg Harbor, New Jersey. The pilot was supposed to fire the M61 A1 Vulcan cannon at a target at a nearby firing range that covers 2,400 acres. However, something went awry, resulting in twenty-five of the two inch projectiles going through the roof of the school and into the parking lot.

Fortunately, the custodian was the only person in the building at the time, and he was not harmed.

Apparently this is not the first incident involving military training flights. In June 2002, another F-16 crashed near the Garden State Parkway during surface attack training (the pilot ejected safely), and in 1999 and 2002, forest fires that burned approximately 12,000 acres of woodland were blamed on “errant bombs” dropped during training exercises.

The military is investigating.

I certainly hope so.

Update: This story has now gone international. Here is a piece that appears at a UK site (newspaper? fish wrap?), written with all the sarcasm one would expect, particularly since the author is writing from San Francisco.

Thanks to A Different Lemming for sending me the link.


  1. I “play” in that area. More specifically, Wharton, Bass River, Penn State, and Lebanon (Byrne) state forests. I often see the jets, paratroopers, etc. It is difficult to see how LEH would get in the mix, but I am no fighter pilot.

    Comment by Eugene — November 5, 2004 @ 7:17 pm

  2. I read this story yesterday. I live about 20 minutes away. I hear the guns all the time.. how nice that they were able to hit the school..freaking idiots. Thank goodness the kids were out of school..

    Comment by Kate — November 5, 2004 @ 8:20 pm

  3. The register is an online publication primarily about and for IT personnel, but that came from their “odds and sods” section, which is where they take the mickey of things that are out of whack. The errant shells certainly fall into that category.

    Comment by MommaBear — November 5, 2004 @ 8:21 pm

  4. Having worked on a Navy flight simulator in my checkered past, it isn’t all THAT hard to understand: when designating a target area for the navigation and targeting system, a transposition error in the coordinates will send you off to someplace you don’t want to be. Still, the pilot should have noticed that the place he was about to obliterate didn’t resemble the target range. Let’s just be glad he wasn’t on a bombing mission – a single Mk-82 500-pounder can ruin your whole day.

    Comment by DMerriman — November 5, 2004 @ 11:44 pm

  5. At least the school wasn’t full of Canadian soldiers on manoeuvers.

    (Bitter? Me?)


    Comment by Light & Dark — November 6, 2004 @ 3:37 pm

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