Flyby

So yesterday, about 2pm, my husband is up on the roof cleaning gutters and I’m acting as a totally ineffective spotter. I look at the sky and I see six fighter jets accompanying, or being accompanied by, one really big plane. They were high up, like the same height that you see a passenger jet traveling, and they were heading I think southwest (but I’m really bad at that kind of thing).

Did anyone else see this? My two thoughts are: the Blue Angels were in Eau Claire last weekend, but why would they have been way the heck up here? And two, could it have been Air Force One or Air Force Two? Do they travel with that many jets?

Anyway, it was cool.

10 Comments

edgeways

about 11 years ago

FWIW the POTUS and VPOTUS travel schedules yesterday: President flew to Grand Rapids MI and back to DC, VP flew to Egypt. 

Blue Angles where flying in Eau Claire on Saturday, so don't know if they took a day off, then flew back to wherever on Monday and you just got the direction wrong perhaps? It seems likely they might have flown from Eau Claire to Milwaukee as that is their next show ... but who knows.

Lord Phosphorus

about 11 years ago

Could you describe the really big plane? Do you recall if there was one engine or two engines on each wing?

Michael Latsch

about 11 years ago

Prolly just 148th F-16s forming up on a KC-135 (i.e. four-engined Boeing 707 built up as an aerial refuelling tanker)

jessige

about 11 years ago

@LordPhosphorus: they were too high for me to see engines on the big one.  I could only see their silhouettes.

My husband says they were flying southeast, and my very first reaction was that it was a group gathering around a refuelling plane.  But I guess the Milwaukee idea could be plausible, if southeast is right.  I wonder what the Blue Angels do on their day off...maybe they went to Canada!

Made for some fun imagining, though.  Kinda like the old occasions when you could see the space shuttle landing.  Guess that won't happen anymore.

zra

about 11 years ago

The smaller planes were the F/A-18A (or F/A-18B) Hornets used by the Blue Angels, and the larger plane was likely either its support aircraft (a modified C-130 Hercules transport plane) or a KC-135 refueling aircraft.

They consume something like 2,000lbs of fuel an hour (it's been a while since I've dealt with those numbers, so I might be off a little bit) so regular inflight refueling (called, ironically, "Texaco") is required, usually by the KC-135s, which probably came out of the Cities. If they were headed home, they'd likely require another refueling somewhere over Colorado before getting there.

Michael Latsch

about 11 years ago

@zra But has it been established that this was the Blues?

heysme

about 11 years ago

I can't add any information to your sighting but being an "ineffective spotter" is important.
A friend of mine allowed her husband to be on the roof while she was inside only to catch a site of him falling past the window!

zra

about 11 years ago

Most likely the Blues, given their numbers and the manner in which they were flying. 

They were all the way up here because they were refueling from a KC135 likely based out of the Cities. They probably started getting gas somewhere south of here. Most fighter jets burn 70-80% of their fuel on takeoff, so gassing up before pressing on is usually the norm. Refueling a fighter with a 450 gallon capacity is tedious at best, and therefore takes a while. Add three or four more and it makes for a lengthy operation.  After they were done, they likely turned to a more south by southwesterly (or WSW) heading and pushed on toward Colorado.

Chris Nollet

about 11 years ago

When they did the Duluth Air Show, the Blue Angels were accompanied by a C-130, nicknamed (I believe) "Baby Huey," which carries their support crew. It also showed off a rocket-assisted takeoff during the show.

zra

about 11 years ago

Fat Albert.

JATOs are the bestest.

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