Is This Insane Low Pass Flyby the Craziest Thing You're Going To See Today? Most Probably Yes

Illustration for article titled Is This Insane Low Pass Flyby the Craziest Thing Youre Going To See Today? Most Probably Yes

I thought this was the craziest low pass flyby ever, but obviously I was mistaken. After all, what you're seeing here is not a small fighter jet but a B-52 Stratofortress almost kissing the sea while flying by USS Ranger aircraft carrier.


Look at the size of that thing and its altitude. That beast is a 265,000-pounds and 185-foot wingspan of a mother—still the backbone of the United States bomber fleet thanks to its amazingly good performance and low cost.


This image was taken in 1990 in the Persian Gulf. US carriers and B-52s were conducting joint exercises when two of the bombers requested permission for a low pass. While it's a high altitude bomber, the B-52s also fly at low altitudes to avoid enemy radar and air defenses. When the B-52s approached the carrier, they announced they were six miles away but the carrier controllers couldn't see them because they weren't looking down.

I wish there was a video. I imagine it looked pretty much like this, but much cooler. [Thanks Karl!]

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This also reminds me of a story my dad told me once (speaking of Vietnam-era shenanigans)-

He was riding in a C-130 in the early '70s when an F-4 happened along. The F-4 pilot came on the radio and challenged the C-130 pilot to a speed contest. The C-130 pilot said, "That's stupid, my plane can't go nearly as fast as yours, and everbody knows it."

The F-4 pilot responded, "No, I wanna see who can go slower!"

Well, the C-130 pilot scoffed at this and immmediately accepted the challenge. An easy bet, he assured my dad.

Well the C-130 pilot extends the barn door flaps all the way down, pulls the power levers way back to damn near ground idle and the Herc lumbers down to an impossibly low speed - about 10 knots above stall speed (which is 100 knots - you do the math). He bumbled through at that speed for about a minute, then radioed over to the F-4, "Alright, fighter jockey, let's see you beat that."

The F-4 responded in about the opposite way that you'd expect - he went to full zone 5 afterburner. He then keeled his nose back to about 80°, and let his forward speed bleed off to about 50 knots. He sat there for a full minute, 10' flames shooting out the back of his J79s, going about the national highway speed limit at the time.

The C-130 pilot was stunned, but graciously agreed that the F-4 could indeed go slower than a C-130.