Radar, Audio Capture F-16 Encounter With Biz Aircraft

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When two GA pilots, one flying a Pilatus PC-12 and the other in a Beechcraft Premier jet, encountered an F-16 in a Military Operations Area used by Luke Air Force Base in Arizona last March, they had to take abrupt, evasive maneuvers to avoid the military jet. The incident, after it was first reported in AVwebFlash, set off a lively debate among pilots on AVweb's blog about the wisdom of flying in MOAs, and prompted an in-depth report in our sister publication, Aviation Safety. This week, AOPA obtained a video clip from the FAA showing the radar screen during the encounter, and also the voice tape from Air Traffic Control. (We've put them together in a handy package for you to watch and listen. You can find the video here.) The F-16 pilot has been reprimanded, and Luke officials told AOPA they will alter their training program to encourage their pilots to avoid similar encounters in the future.

In a podcast interview with AVweb, PC-12 pilot Patrick McCall said his TCAS activated about 10 a.m. that day while he was cruising at 16,500 feet (VFR with flight following) and he had to dive his aircraft as the target kept closing on him. The target followed him in the dive and when McCall leveled at about 14,000 feet, he was amazed by the view from his side window. "I then looked to my left side of the aircraft and saw an F16 aircraft off of my left wing," he said in a written report sent to the FAA. "The F16 was no more than 20 feet off of my left wing."