Fighter jet strafes elementary school

Thomas Veil

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Original poster
Feb 14, 2004
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Can you believe this?


LITTLE EGG HARBOR, N.J. (AP) - A National Guard F-16 fighter jet on a nighttime training mission strafed an elementary school with 25 rounds of ammunition, authorities said Thursday. No one was injured.

The military is investigating the incident that damaged Little Egg Harbor Intermediate School in southern New Jersey shortly after 11 p.m. Wednesday. The school is a few miles from a military firing range.

Police were called when a custodian who was the only person in the school heard what sounded like someone running across the roof.

Police Chief Mark Siino said officers noticed punctures in the roof. Ceiling tiles had fallen into classrooms, and there were scratch marks in the asphalt outside.

The pilot of the single-seat jet was supposed to fire at a ground target on the firing range three and half miles from the school, said Col. Brian Webster, commander of the 177th Fighter Wing of the New Jersey Air National Guard, which is responsible for the range. He did not know what led to the school getting shot up.
Man, it's a damn good thing this happened when no children were there. Even so, that custodian's life was in danger.

If I were the National Guard, I think I'd move that firing range elsewhere. :eek:
 

Mr. Anderson

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Nov 1, 2001
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Night time, eh, you'd think he'd be able to see it wasn't the target area....but it makes you wonder what its doing so close to a community to begin with.

D
 

sushi

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Jul 19, 2002
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Mr. Anderson said:
makes you wonder what its doing so close to a community to begin with.
When the range was created, probably there were no communities nearby. Over the years communities/cities sprang up resulting in the current situation.

This is a common occurance around airports and bases. Originally they are created out in the boonies. Then cities grow up around them.

With airports, the residents complain about the noise. Then try to close the airport or limit the hours of operation. Everyone seems to forget that the airport was there first.

Oh well...

Sushi
 

Black&Tan

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Mar 4, 2004
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One interesting fact left out of the story, the pilot was wearing night vision goggles. I don't know if anyone is aware or remembers, but there have been a number of nightime military helicopter accidents due to the goggles and how much they distort the pilots ability to maintain proper distance from the ground and other aircraft. I also remember hearing about an A-10 pilot who was severely disoriented while flying across the Atlantic prior to the first Iraq war, using night vision goggles and flying in formation. He experienced some dramatic wind effects (descending over 1000 feet in 15 seconds) and nearly crashed into the ocean.

If you figure an F16 is travelling at 600mph, the time to travel 3 miles is roughly 18 seconds (if I did my math right). Not a lot of time to realize you're making a mistake.

I'm not excusing the pilots error, it's kind of tough to accidentally fire the cannon, but night vision goggles and aviation are a very tricky combination.
 

munkle

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Aug 7, 2004
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That story is absolutely unbelievable, you just have to be thankful that nobody was injured...I still can't believe something like that was able to happen.
 

Abstract

macrumors Penryn
Dec 27, 2002
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The school is a few miles from a military firing range.
"Um....I think you missed by just a tad."

Funny how pilots and personnel are so reliant on electronics to do everything that an active person can never make a judgement call on exactly what they're firing at. All they do is look at a screen and hope it's right. I'm sure if he were actually allowed to look down, he would have noticed that he wasn't above the base or the target.
 

sushi

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Black&Tan said:
If you figure an F16 is travelling at 600mph, the time to travel 3 miles is roughly 18 seconds (if I did my math right). Not a lot of time to realize you're making a mistake.
You did.

...and 18 seconds is a short time at those speeds.

Black&Tan said:
I'm not excusing the pilots error, it's kind of tough to accidentally fire the cannon, but night vision goggles and aviation are a very tricky combination.
No excuses for the pilot.

FWIW, with some systems, it is very easy to accidentially fire a weapon. For example, I have been in systems where movement of one finger/thumb of 1/8 - 1/4 inch could result in firing the weapon system.

Sushi
 

Black&Tan

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Mar 4, 2004
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sushi said:
When the range was created, probably there were no communities nearby. Over the years communities/cities sprang up resulting in the current situation.

Sushi
This is from CNN:

The Warren Grove range, about 30 miles north of Atlantic City, has been used by the military since the end of World War II, long before the surrounding area was developed.
 

sushi

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makisushi said:
I can't believe that a firing range is only 3 miles away from an elemntary school!
See my comment above.

I doubt that the range was built with in 3 miles of the school.

Rather it was the other way around. That is how it usually happens.

Sushi
 

sushi

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Black&Tan said:
This is from CNN:

The Warren Grove range, about 30 miles north of Atlantic City, has been used by the military since the end of World War II, long before the surrounding area was developed.
Thanks! :D
 

sushi

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Thomas Veil said:
If I were the National Guard, I think I'd move that firing range elsewhere.
While I understand and agree with where you are coming from, it isn't that easy to do for a variety of reasons.

Sushi
 

Black&Tan

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Mar 4, 2004
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sushi said:
FWIW, with some systems, it is very easy to accidentially fire a weapon. For example, I have been in systems where movement of one finger/thumb of 1/8 - 1/4 inch could result in firing the weapon system.

Sushi
At the Falcon's rate of fire, (6000 rnds/sec), the total duration of the pilots accidental firing would be .25 of a second. My question is where was the F16 when the rounds were released? Was the pilot actively strafing the building, was he test firing the gatling gun, or was it an accidental depression of the trigger during flight maneuvers (doesn't the gun require arming before it is able to fire). Also, the article states the bullets impacted the roof and the parking lot. What was the distance between the impacts. That might provide a trajectory back to the aircraft to determine what the pilot was doing. A straight path of impacts would indicate level flight. However an arcing pattern would indicate either a banking turn or perhaps a greater distance from the firing point. Bullets fly until they hit something, either a target or the earth. Was there actually a target for these bullets?
 

Crikey

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Jan 14, 2004
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He was just practicing for what he'll be doing soon in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Sudan, Iran, North Korea, or Colombia. This is only news because it happened here.


Crikey
 

DigitalVideo

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Nov 5, 2004
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This reminded me of somthing that happened to my high school a few years ago (also in New Jersey)...

We were in class one day and we heard a jet screeching VERY closeby. We thought a plane was crashing, but it continued for about 2 minutes, until finally the admins came on the loudspeaker to say a military jet was buzzing about 200 feet above the school but that it seemed to be over and they would investigate immediately. It turned out that a former graduate had joined the air force and buzzed this high school as a prank when he became a pilot.
 

wdlove

macrumors P6
Oct 20, 2002
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That is terrible. It's amazing that with night goggle vision something like this happening. That range being three miles from the school was poor planning on the part of the Air National Guard. :( :eek:
 

Raid

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Feb 18, 2003
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I saw this story in the paper today and I'm glad nobody got hurt. If it was only 25 rounds, and the pilot was 3 miles out I can see it as an accidental tap of the trigger, which he probably just armed to do his run.
 

edesignuk

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Mar 25, 2002
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Raid said:
I saw this story in the paper today and I'm glad nobody got hurt. If it was only 25 rounds, and the pilot was 3 miles out I can see it as an accidental tap of the trigger, which he probably just armed to do his run.
When you're piloting an armed fighter jet anywhere near residential areas (well, actually at anytime, anywhere) you cannot make "mistakes". "Oooops" doesn't cut it as an excuse.
 

James L

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Apr 14, 2004
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This story doesn't surprise me at all. In Afghanistan the several thousand strong Canadian military group lost the majority of its casualties to American pilots dropping bombs on them during "friendly fire" incidents. I am not sure if the taliban even got one of the Canadian troops.

Enhanced training, anyone?
 

mymemory

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May 9, 2001
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Miami
I would recomend everybody to re-check where your house is located to be sure you are not now living in a nuclear test field or something like that :rolleyes: