F-16 Intercepts Jet & Turboprop Legally Flying Through MOA

January 6, 2009

When two GA pilots, one flying a Pilatus PC-12 and the other in a Beechcraft Premier jet, encountered an F-16 in a Military Operations Area used by Luke Air Force Base in Arizona last March, they had to take abrupt, evasive maneuvers to avoid the military jet. The incident, after it was http://www.avweb.com/avwebflash/news/F16EncounterAngersPilots_197487-1.html first reported in AVwebFlash, set off a lively debate among pilots on AVweb’s http://www.avweb.com/blogs/insider/AVwebInsiderBlog_IfYouCantHandleMigs_F16s_MOAs_197505-1.html blog about the wisdom of flying in MOAs, and prompted an in-depth report in our sister publication, Aviation Safety. This week, AOPA obtained a http://www.aopa.org/flightplanning/articles/2008/080707f-16.html video clip from the FAA showing the radar screen during the encounter, and also the voice tape from Air Traffic Control. The F-16 pilot has been reprimanded, and Luke officials told AOPA they will alter their training program to encourage their pilots to avoid similar encounters in the future. In a http://www.avweb.com/podcast/podcast/197492-1.html?kw=RelatedStory podcast interview with AVweb, PC-12 pilot Patrick McCall said his TCAS activated about 10 a.m. that day while he was cruising at 16,500 feet (VFR with flight following) and he had to dive his aircraft as the target kept closing on him. The target followed him in the dive and when McCall leveled at about 14,000 feet, he was amazed by the view from his side window. “I then looked to my left side of the aircraft and saw an F16 aircraft off of my left wing,” he said in a written report sent to the FAA. “The F16 was no more than 20 feet off of my left wing.”

Duration : 0:3:17


27 Responses to “F-16 Intercepts Jet & Turboprop Legally Flying Through MOA”

  1. afviper on January 6th, 2009 7:41 am

    wow that podcast is …
    wow that podcast is ridiculous, GA pilots should realize that military pilots have every right to attempt intercepts, as stated before it is in the FAR/AIM, but these two morons refused to believe that, it disgusts me how little respect they have for our military pilots, if they were smart they wouldn’t fly into MOAs

  2. av8orguy on January 6th, 2009 7:41 am

    That pilot (viper) …
    That pilot (viper) was grounded.

  3. 9GViperDriver on January 6th, 2009 7:41 am

    C420 Sailor had it …
    C420 Sailor had it right, for the rest of you GA know-nothings–until you’ve gained the credibility to lead 50+ aircraft through & back to get to the target, STFU!

  4. 9GViperDriver on January 6th, 2009 7:41 am

    Fly northeast of …
    Fly northeast of the GladBag MOA and stay out of our airspace! If you decide to be an idiot and fly in it while the USAF is conducting student training and get hit, you are the problem. ABQ/PHX & Luke approach don’t have time to give idiots point outs while in the MOA, which is why AIM states “Pilots operating under VFR should exercise extreme caution while flying within a MOA…” which is why the controller said “Maintain VFR!” Both clowns could’ve easily gone around the MOA.

  5. 9GViperDriver on January 6th, 2009 7:41 am

    Both of these …
    Both of these clowns are some of the stupidest pilots (if you can call them that) I’ve heard of in 20 years of flying. Check the AIM, Section 3-4-5 boneheads… “b. Examples of activities conducted in MOAs include, but are not limited to: air combat tactics, air intercepts.
    You are putting yourselves and your passengers at risk flying VFR into the highest density fighter training MOA on the planet… to be continued…

  6. aocharlie on January 6th, 2009 7:41 am

    First of let me say …
    First of let me say that I work for a Navy FA-18 squadron and let me tell you something. WE FLY EVRYDAY!!! Even on some holidays so don’t sit there thinking you know it all and think that military pilot don’t fly as often a civilian because I bust my to keep the jets up so they can go flying.

  7. jedrinck on January 6th, 2009 7:41 am

    Quite a reckless …
    Quite a reckless thing to do by the F-16 pilot. He should know about the TCAS resolution advisories he causes when approaoching an ac like he did. It is cool to be intercepted if they at least tell you about it before but in this case he ed up the two civilian ac big time. FAA and ICAO regulations require pilots to follow TCAS advisories. Also, bad idea to fly through an active MOA by the two civilian pilots.

  8. alcockell on January 6th, 2009 7:41 am

    Useful having an …
    Useful having an RAF controller sitting with NATS controllers on each sector…

  9. alcockell on January 6th, 2009 7:41 am

    An Airmiss is when …
    An Airmiss is when two aircraft converge within 10 nautical miles horizontally or 1000 feet vertically. Civil pilots are NOT expecting anything to be that close.

  10. C420sailor on January 6th, 2009 7:41 am

    In response to all …
    In response to all of the “civilians have more hours than military pilots” posters—quality versus quantity. Every hour flown is spent training or qualifying. They don’t just bore holes in the sky or fly the pattern 20 times like civilian types do.

    No understanding of the FAR/AIM? They don’t know aerodynamics? Are you kidding me? You, sir, are showing your complete ignorance of military aviation right there.

    Until you’ve flown in the military, promptly STFU.

  11. helobelow on January 6th, 2009 7:41 am

    No permission …
    No permission required to fly through an MOA. There are many of them… and it would be ridiculus to fly around them all. Calling is benificial but not required.

  12. helobelow on January 6th, 2009 7:41 am

    It takes a ton more …
    It takes a ton more skill to fly a large heavy aircraft out of CG longitudal or laterally then to cruise around with an exrta 30 tons of thrust in non-combat situations. ive seen a bunch of hot shot MIL Pies have to forget everything theyve learned to keep an aircraft out of the dirt. Just had one dig in a few months back, lucky he lived. Settled with power. Im a vet so no anti mil comments please. AV only.

  13. helobelow on January 6th, 2009 7:41 am

    Very true, true …
    Very true, true with roor wing too. Unless active combat duty they are lucky to fly 300hrs a year.

  14. helobelow on January 6th, 2009 7:41 am

    What? Military …
    What? Military pilots barely get enough time in to understand dangers and aerodynamics. I am a big military advocate and salute or brave men and women. But they are mission oriented, weapons trained, have no understanding or minimal understanding of the FAR/AIM, probably don’t care and make horrible flight instructors and commercial pilots unless retrained. I love what they do and what they represent. In civilian aviation they tend to screw things up. respectfully.

  15. YFIP on January 6th, 2009 7:41 am

    Right, because …
    Right, because flying straight and level, Pt A to Pt B, with the autopilot on makes you more qualified. That’s admin, nothing more. And I can guarantee you we fly more than just once in a while “dog fighting flights”.

  16. N9602FL on January 6th, 2009 7:41 am

    dude military …
    dude military pilots hardly fly as many hours a civilian would, and that’s a fact the viper driver probaly has no more than 1000 hours tt and probably less in f-16, where as the the civial guys fly constantly and more often then just every once in a while “dog fighting flights” thus making the premier pilot more qualified and more current i dont care who you are i would’ve have done the same thing as the premier pilot

  17. SurfCityVideo on January 6th, 2009 7:41 am

    Ive been a …
    Ive been a commercial rated pilot for 25 years. While I would not appreciate being bounced, I also do not fly through hot MOA’s without talking to the controlling agency. Yest it’s legal to fly through a hot MOA but is it smart to do so without communicating?.

  18. 64thAGGRESSOR on January 6th, 2009 7:41 am

    Guess what typical …
    Guess what typical civilian pilots feeling inferior to military combat pilots and when they felt the chance to take control of a situation and did so to the fullest, do you really think that viper pilot put anybody at danger, the drastic moves the civilian aircraft did were more dangerous than a loose formation to get a visual, Our USAF pilot are highly trained and protect idiot civilians that get a rush flying through military airspace grow some nut, any man would love to fly with a f-16 =)

  19. mmichaeldonavon on January 6th, 2009 7:41 am

    I understand the …
    I understand the concern with the TCAS “alerts”, but once you see the F-16 crusin’ off your wing, what’s all the “mad” about? Some folks are just to rigid.

  20. nickmctrick on January 6th, 2009 7:41 am


  21. GoNavy311 on January 6th, 2009 7:41 am

    Nobody “lets” …
    Nobody “lets” anyone fly through a MOA, it’s not an action that requires permission–you just simply fly through it. Contacting the controlling agency beforehand to find out if it’s active however is a WISE practice.

  22. GoNavy311 on January 6th, 2009 7:41 am

    You don’t need …
    You don’t need permission to fly in a MOA. It’s nice to know if it’s active (so you can better avoid military aircraft), but it’s not prohibited airspace.

  23. slovely08 on January 6th, 2009 7:41 am

    If you have …
    If you have permission you should not have to worry about coming in contact with military jets.

  24. afviper on January 6th, 2009 7:41 am

    These idiots should …
    These idiots should not have been in a MOA in the first place if they don’t want to come in contact with Military Aircraft, and whoever let them fly through A MOA during a training sortie is a dumbass.

  25. theimmelman on January 6th, 2009 7:41 am

    Had I been at the …
    Had I been at the controls of either small business aircraft involved in this episode, I would have been angry too.

    I don’t imagine the group that chartered the flights were impressed to see an F-16 pulling maneuvers around the aircraft. Be it out of the pilots hands or not, the passenger group may not see it that way. They may consider the flight planning negligent, or take the pilots skills into question for being in the situation.

    I’d of been waiting to file my report too! No question.

  26. SPERRY on December 13th, 2009 5:18 am

    What? a military aircraft practicing an interception in an MOA? Informing the controlling agency and “Leagally”??? flying through an MOA doesn’t mean they can’t use you as a target.

  27. Frederf on June 15th, 2010 4:16 am

    Excuse me but MOA does not equal “military airspace” as if they own it. It’s a “military operating area” as in “the military is known to operate here.” It doesn’t belong to the military any more than it belongs to GA aircraft.

    Also the GA pilot cannot “chill about his TCAS warnings.” They are legal mandates. You ignore your TCAS, you lose your license, you drive a bus.

    The really surprising thing is that civil and military controllers weren’t talking to one another. If controllers share airspace they should definitely have a telephone line.

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