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Kinnick Stadium flyover investigation complete

[ 54 ] January 6, 2011 |
Hawkeye Marching Band members stand at attention as four T-38 aircraft fly over Kinnick Stadium prior to the start of the Iowa-Ohio State game on Nov. 20, 2010. The flyover, conducted by the 25th Flying Training Squadron of the 71st Flying Training Wing out of Vance Air Force Base in Oklahoma, is under investigation for being too low.

Hawkeye Marching Band members stand at attention as four T-38 aircraft fly over Kinnick Stadium prior to the start of the Iowa-Ohio State game on Nov. 20, 2010. The flyover, conducted by the 25th Flying Training Squadron of the 71st Flying Training Wing out of Vance Air Force Base in Oklahoma, is under investigation for being too low.

Internal investigators believe four pilots of a military jet flyover at Kinnick Stadium last Nov. 20 went too low, which violates Air Force regulations.

The 71st Flying Training Wing investigation was completed on Dec. 20, and an Air Force commander will now decide what if any disciplinary action to pursue against the four pilots from the 25th Flying Training Squadron, First Lt. Katie Roling, with the public affairs office at Vance Air Force Base in Enid, Okla., said on Thursday.

“We are here to ensure the safety of not only our pilots and aircrafts but people we defend as well,” Roling said. “Any rule that is violated, they will have to face the charges.”

The investigation was initiated after it appeared the four T-38 jets flew below the Air Force minimum altitude, which is 1,000 feet above ground level above the highest obstacle within 2,000 feet of the aircraft.

First-hand accounts say the jets appeared to dip into the stadium and online video of the flyover show the jets flying from north to south, just clearing the Kinnick scoreboard, after the national anthem concluded and before kickoff.

The Des Moines Register in a Nov. 30 story about one of the pilots, Maj. Chris Kopacek of Ankeny, reported the pilots had clearance to fly as low as 500 feet.

If charges are filed, the next step is a preferral process in which the Air Force notifies the accused of the charges against them, which could take one to three weeks, Roling said. If charges are filed it would be followed by an Article 32 hearing, which is similar to a probable cause hearing in civilian law, Roling said.

At this hearing the investigating officer states the case to an Air Force commander, who then determines if discipline should be handled through administrative action or a court martial process, Roling said. More serious penalties for a guilty finding include discharge, confinement and fines, Roling said.

“No charges have been made. Once they are made then you have to notify the individual that the charges are being pursued through a court martial process,” Roling said describing the preferral process.

University of Iowa spokesman Tom Moore directed questions about the investigation to the Air Force, but said the flyover accomplished what UI hoped it would.

“The purpose of the flyover was to honor or military personal and we feel the display accomplished that goal,” Moore said.

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

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