Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird . . . it's Superman . . . No . . . It's a plane. A Navy F/A-18 Hornet fighter and ground support plane to be exact. And it spent most of yesterday morning roaring low over campus, awakening students and disrupting classes. Bill Pinelli, a Federal Aviation Administration spokesperson in Philadelphia, said yesterday that the plane was running radar tests over the city from the U.S.S. Kitty Hawk aircraft carrier, which is being overhauled in the Navy ship yards in Philadelphia. But for several professors and students, it was more a test of their patience. Chinese Literature Professor Victor Mair said last night that the jet passed twice during his 10 a.m. Chinese class in Logan Hall. "It sort of scared us," Mair said. "We're sort of used to the helicopter that goes off from the hospital, but this sounded like it was right outside the window." "It seemed like it was going to crash into Irvine Auditorium," he added. College and Wharton senior Lorie Gleim was studying in her off-campus apartment when the plane interrupted her concentration. "It did interrupt my daily life," said Gleim, whose father is a pilot. "I was studying and I stuck my head out the window for 15 minutes trying to see what it was." And College sophomore Josh Fogelman was fast asleep when the jet flew by. "The plane was flying by and the sound was rattling the windows and that's what woke me up," Fogelman said. "I don't ordinarily like being woken up early in the morning, but the roar of the engines of America's freedom fighters could never disturb me." People at the University weren't the only ones upset. Air Force Sergeant Milan Christy, a spokesperson for McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey, said the base had also received calls but emphasized that the plane "is not one of ours." Despite the complaints, FAA's Pinelli said that jets are allowed to fly over metropolitan areas as long as they stay 1000 feet above the highest obstacle in a five-mile radius. Lieutenant Karl Johnson, the Kitty Hawk's public affairs officer, said yesterday that the carrier is in the process of calibrating its new radar system, and will complete the testing today. "It's a perfectly good aircraft flying by a ship with new equipment that needs to be adjusted," Johnson said. "It will make the system able to track and detect the way it is supposed to." The lieutenant added that this kind of testing is usually done at sea, but because the ship is in for an $800 million overhaul, the plane was forced to fly over land. He said city officials and the FAA approved the plan. Pentagon spokesperson Lieutenant David Wray, who specializes in aircraft carriers, said that the 29-year-old U.S.S. Kitty Hawk is undergoing a 37-month "service life extention program" in the Philadelphia yards. The major overhaul started in July 1987 and will be completed in the middle of 1991, around the ship's 30th birthday in April. "It's like stripping a big old Volkswagon down and rebuilding it up with new parts," Kitty Hawk spokesperson Johnson said. Wray said the carrier is based in San Diego, California, where it will return once all repairs are completed. The ship carries a mix of aircrafts, including fighters, bombers and ground support planes, Wray added. Matthew Klein contributed to this story.Comments powered by Disqus
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