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A high profile "Wrong Airfield" incident....

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On Tuesday, the USAF were planning on showing off a B-52 bomber at the Farnborough Air Show in England. The plane was to fly non-stop round trip from its US base and do a couple of low-level passes over the crowds at Farnborough before returning to the US.Unfortunately, the crew mistook Blackbushe - about 5 miles away - for Farnborough, and did their display over the virtually deserted GA field before returning to the US. Bad enough to make a mistake like this at any time, but to leave the leaders of virtually the worlds entire aviation industry standing around the tents and booths showcasing their products while you zoom back and forth in front of a used car auction and a couple of Cessnas a few miles away has GOT to be embarrassing.One has to wonder how the crew failed to notice the total absence of crowds and ground displays!http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml.../21/ixhome.htmlRichard

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Could have been worse... they could have been on a bombing mission instead of an airshow demo. :-) Cheers,Greg

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So...I wonder, do USAF military aircraft not speak to ATC? Do they not use maps? In this day and age, it defies logic that an advanced military system could make so fundamental a mistake...as the previous poster quipped....Yes, thank god it wasn't a bombing mission instead!!Sadly, as I work on a USAF military base here in the UK, I have plenty of experience of the intelligence and common sense displayed by many members of the US Air Force....I've experienced Pilots who show all the common sense of a house brick, and can amazingly get lost in the BX whillst following me to the merchandise that they wish to purchase......thank heavens for auto-pilot in the planes!! I've known mechanics who can't flip a voltage switch, or operate a VCR without tripping all the breakers in their house....and general airmen who have the name badge on their uniforms more for their own benefit, rather than for the benefit of others....!!I'm honestly not trying to be insulting to US service men, but.....I see this crazy stupidity several times a day, seven days a week.....and sadly it does rather colour ones' impressions of the US armed forces as a whole!! On the flip-side, as I've been with this organisation for aprox 18 years, I must say that I have also met many wonderfully sharp, witty, and brilliant people....it's just that they seem to be outnumbered by the idiots!!So in a way I can raise a wry smile and NOT be at all surprised that the B52 aircrew got a little lost.... ;)

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"get lost in the BX whillst following me"What is a "BX"?

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yarvelling:"get lost in the BX whillst following me"Kevin:"What is a "BX"?""Base Exchange" - special reduced price supermarket on an airbase for the military personnel to use. Makes it possible for people on US military paychecks to live in places like the UK and still afford luxuries like food :-)Richard

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Aircraft on the way to airshows are under constant positive control by ATC.The only reason this could have happened is if a controller decided to play a joke on the USAF and/or if something went wrong in the handoff from London control (civilian) to Farnborough approach (military).

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Firstly, Farnborough is not a military field, it's a civilian one, operated by TAG Group.An aircraft such as a B-52 on its way to an airshow would indeed be under positive ATC - until the end of the flight. The low-level evolutions, such as fly-bys, are *not* under ATC control.The London area control would have handed off the B-52 to Farnborough. The tower controller at Farnborough would then take over until the pilot reported "Field in sight", at which point the plane would be cleared "Operational/Due Regard" in order to do its show. After the show was over, Farnborough tower would hand the plane back to London area for departure control.Due to the presence of Heathrow and Gatwick to the east, a plane from the US coming to Farnborough would be vectored in from the northwest - which was where the tower controller told the crowd to look for it. Coming in from the northwest, however, brings you in over Blackbushe which has a runway having the same orientation as the main runway as Farnborough - though it's not otherwise that similar. No doubt what happened here was the same as what happened at Rapid City a few weeks back. The pilot was descending and saw a field when he was expecting to see one, told the tower he had it in sight, and continued to do his fly-by's. Richard

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Agreed...Braun, 15 year USAF Air Traffic Controller

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