F-15 Show Unauthorized, But Not Unsafe


An F-15 pilot broke the rules but didn’t violate safety procedures when he rocked the normally quiet town of Geneseo, Ill., with a fly-past on Feb. 13. Maj. Whitney Sieben was subjected to “administrative action” for failing to ask the Oregon Air National Guard if he could use their airplane for an aerial tribute to his dying grandmother. And while Jean Sieben (who died 11 days later) and the rest of the Sieben clan were all ready for the jet display, the rest of the town wasn’t. The police received more than 100 calls about the incident, which occurred shortly after the terrorism alert status in the U.S. had been raised to orange and the country was preparing for war in Iraq. The Air National Guard investigated and found that Sieben did not get prior approval to fly the impromptu air show. The probe also found that Sieben did not perform the barrel rolls and loops that so many witnesses claim to have seen. The jet was joined in the display by a light plane flown by Sieben’s uncle, state Sen. Todd Sieben. Maj. Sieben’s punishment was not released.