Fri, Apr 02, 2004
Pilot "Lucky" Not To Have Been Shot Down
It probably wasn't
until after he'd landed that a 68-year old German retiree learned
how close he'd come to being shot out of the sky.
Police in Bitburg say the unidentified pilot, flying a Super
Dimona "homebuilt" had radioed his intentions to land at the town's
commercial airport. But after closing to within about eight miles
of the airport, authorities say he turned off his navigational aids
and apparently became a bit disoriented.
Instead of landing at Bitburg, the man flew right into the
pattern at the huge American airbase at Spangdahlem. The base is
home of the 52nd Fighter Wing, the single biggest fighter operation
in all of Europe, equipped with F-16s and A-10s.
Did he notice the military aircraft lined up on the tarmac?
Did he notice the warnings from the Spangdahlem tower? Er...
But you can bet he sure noticed the MPs who were out on the
field to greet him.
Police say he was lucky not to have been shot down. Bitburg
authorities were quick to praise the "prudent" reaction by US
forces tracking the civilian flight.
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