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Luftwaffe escort startles holidaymakers

The Local · 25 Jul 2012, 17:16

Published: 25 Jul 2012 17:16 GMT+02:00

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“Air traffic control lost radio contact with the plane at 8:41 am, and activated a request for a sight identification of the plane,” André Hesse, Luftwaffe spokesman told The Local.

The Tuifly Nordic flight from Gothenburg in Sweden, to Palma de Majorca was over Bremen when radio contact was lost.

Hesse said Luftwaffe planes had to react within quarter of an hour to any such request as part of the Nato integrated air defence system covering Europe.

“We had two Phantom F4F jets in the air anyway on a training flight,” said Hesse.

“They were taken off their route and redirected to the plane to carry out a sight identification. This involves getting close enough to identify the plane – and to take a look in the cockpit to see whether anything unusual is happening. They have to come relatively close to do this.”

He said they would be close enough for the commercial pilots to give a thumbs-up to signal to show everything was ok.

“The Phantoms escorted the plane from 8:45 until 9:00, when radio contact with air traffic control was re-established,” said Hesse.

Alexander Huber, CEO of Tuifly Nordic, told The Local it was not uncommon for radio contact to be temporarily lost, and that an investigation would be launched to figure out what had happened in this case.

Story continues below…

Hesse said it initially looked as if the Tuifly pilots may have muddled up the frequencies on their radio.

The Local/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

21:02 July 25, 2012 by wood artist

Why don't we start with the assumption that this might well have been an honest error. Could happen to anyone, and likely does more times than we know. I seriously doubt termination or severe discipline is appropriate unless this is a regular occurrence for these specific pilots. A simple "probably shouldn't allow this to happen again" is likely enough, since they'll undoubtedly get some pressure from their fellow pilots about it too. Would you work in a place where a single error, that didn't (apparently) create any real danger, meant you're fired? I certainly wouldn't.

22:08 July 25, 2012 by SchwabHallRocks
This was not uncommon, especially when crossing multiple borders very quickly (Germany - Benelux)at lower altitudes.

And, I fondly remember German F4s flying through the middle of my military formation one time because we flew over some airspace without all the radio comms in advance.

Really the only thing surprising is that Germany still has F4s.
22:51 July 25, 2012 by Staticjumper
@SchwabHallRocks, that was my thought. When I first saw the picture in this story I thought someone had screwed up and posted an old stock picture of any-old plane. Even if used only as trainers the F4 is a high-maintenance plane. And as I heard an American fighter pilot once say, "The F-4 is proof that if you put big enough engines on it, you can get a brick to fly."
17:13 July 26, 2012 by hanskarl
@Staticjumper, This true and I have heard that in the past as well. Nevertheless, this plane saved many American pilots ar$es in Vietnam.
23:38 July 26, 2012 by Swag2TZ
Jolly good show.............air space security works in Germany.
01:16 July 28, 2012 by Whipmanager
Now imagine, I am a terrorist, I highjack a commercial plane and now know that if the Military jets come by me so close, the pilot has to give a thumbs up to signal ok. I have cut the radios so that no one can communicte and tell the authorities I took over the plane, and I got as far as being in the cockpit.

I do not think it was prudent to tell the world that a pilot not in radio contact with the tower, when approached by a military Jet needs to do a certainthing to signal everything is ok. It tells potential terrorists that they need to beat the pilot or someone close to him so that they can find out wha tthe signal is and ensure it is given to the military jets. Just my thoughts on this subject.

BTW: The F-4 Phantom is one of the best all time fighters to have seen action. Those J-79s (-17s on my jet) were 17,500 lbs of pure sexual energy and in the hands of the right pilot could shoot down an F-15 or 16 all day....if you could see them. Of course, if you didn't, there were some issues about meeting your maker in a martin baker.....
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