F-16 Pilot Grounded For Buzzing Fenway During Flyover

A Vermont Air National Guard pilot who took part in a flyover of Fenway Park during opening day ceremonies has been grounded for making an improper maneuver near the park, a Guard spokesman said Thursday.

The F-16 pilot flew under and over the other three F-16s in the formation at about 1,200 feet over Boston on Tuesday afternoon because he was going too fast and was late joining the formation, Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Lloyd Goodrow said.

“It is a legitimate maneuver. It is normally done at 5,000 feet or above,” Goodrow said. “The crowd loved it, but it was not a planned maneuver.”

Goodrow would not release the name of the pilot.

People at Fenway Park or watching the Boston Red Sox’s opening day ceremonies on television saw three planes flying wing tip to wing tip when the fourth plane approached from behind and then appeared to curve around the other aircraft.

Goodrow said it was not an acrobatic stunt.

“At no time was the public in danger,” Goodrow said. “Our pilot is a very skilled pilot. He maintained full control of the airplane.”

Red Sox spokesman John Blake said Thursday the team hadn’t heard any complaints about the maneuver.

“I think we were made aware of it today by the Green Mountain Boys,” Blake said Thursday. “Nobody here has had a lot of time to find out what happened.”

Goodrow said Guard officials saw the maneuver on television.

“We all said, ‘Wow, that’s not right.’ All the aviators knew what was going on,” Goodrow said. “They said, ‘That was a bit unusual.”’

The pilot was suspended after he landed back at the Burlington International Airport in South Burlington.

“The pilot has been grounded, not as a punishment but so we can provide remedial training in tactics and procedures so this situation does not happen again,” Goodrow said. “He might have made other choices to rejoin the formation.”

There was no word on how long the pilot would remain grounded.