Officials say Kinnick flyover too low


Rob Johnson/The Daily Iowan
Four T-38 jets fly over during the national anthem at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 20, 2010.
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Officials said a flyover at Kinnick Stadium during the Iowa-Ohio State football game last month may have violated Air Force regulations by being hundreds of feet too low, the Associated Press has reported.

Videos show the four jets barely clearing the scoreboard, which rises to 112 feet. Air Force regulations require jets to fly at a minimum altitude of 1,000 feet above "the highest obstacle within 2,000 feet" of the aircraft, as well as 1,000 feet above the ground of heavily populated areas, the Associated Press said. The highest point of Kinnick is the top of the press box, at 137 feet, Kim McDonald of Neumann Monson Architects told the Associated Press. Neumann Monson designed the stadium's renovations.

Students at the Nov. 20 Ohio State game told The Daily Iowan they were shocked at how close the T-38 Trainer jets came to Kinnick Stadium.

"The noise was deafening, and I honestly thought they were going to hit the Jumbotron," said UI sophomore Logan Williams. "I've seen a flyover before, and that one, the planes seemed closer."

Another UI student said he thought the flyover resembled others he's seen.

John Veale, a history major at the UI who watched a flyover at the 2005 Outback Bowl, said he thought the two demonstrations were similar.

"I enjoyed it overall," the sophomore said. "But it was about the same height."

The military flyover came at the end of the "Star Spangled Banner" and was followed by loud cheering and a standing ovation by many Hawkeye football fans.

One of the pilots who conducted the flyover said they received permission to fly below regulated levels, but an official from their Air Force base disagreed.

According to the Des Moines Register, Maj. Chris Kopacek, who flew one of the four jets over Kinnick Stadium Nov. 20, said he and his colleagues were cleared to fly at an altitude of 500 feet.

Other pilots declined to comment.

But First Lt. Katie Roling, the chief of public affairs for Vance Air Force Base, Okla., told the Associated Press permission was never granted.

Roling said all requests must be approved by an Air Force official after a waiver by the Federal Aviation Administration, the Associated Press said.

The flyover remains under an internal investigation by Vance Air Force Base, and the exact altitude of the jets involved is unknown. Roling said the results would be made public, but it's unclear when that will be. However, officials said the jets appear to have flown far below regulated levels.

UI spokesman Tom Moore declined to comment on the investigation, because it is not being conducted by the University of Iowa.

"The purpose of the flyover was to honor all of our military personnel," he said.

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