NEWPORT BEACH – The U.S. Navy has responded to a Newport Beach letter requesting advance notice for military flyover tributes, stating that no notice will be given unless the city code is changed to require it.
Mayor Nancy Gardner said she would suggest such a change at the next City Council meeting on Sept. 25, Corona del Mar Today reports.
The issue arose after a memorial was held for a World War II hero John Francis (Jack) Callahan, who died Feb. 19 at age 94. Callahan was a decorated flier in the war, and his son wanted to incorporate a military tribute as part of his March 24 memorial service at the Balboa Yacht Club.
No advance notice was given to city officials, and the unexpected appearance of four F-18s followed by two World War II T-6s startled many local residents, who flooded the police station with calls. Gardner said at the time that she thought the planes were going to crash into her house.
In April, City Manager Dave Kiff sent a letter to Rep. John Campbell (R-Irvine), asking for the congressman’s assistance in working with the military to secure advance notification for future flyovers. Campbell received a reply dated Sept. 11 from J.M. Phillips, a congressional liaison in the Pentagon.
“Your concern in this matter is appreciated, and I regret the delay in responding to your correspondence,” the letter said, adding that they had investigated the incident with Marine officials in Camp Pendleton and in San Diego.
“We were informed that by standing directive, the 3d MAW (3rd Marine Aircraft Wing) does not assume responsibility for advance coordination with, or notification of, city officials for the municipalities under the air space where aerial support and other air operations are conducted,” the letter said. “However, city governments may enact ordinances to regulate or restrict requests from the community for military aerial support for events located within their city limits.”
The 3d MAW is responsible for coordinating such events, the letter states, so they comply with FAA air-space regulations and local air traffic control agencies.
For Callahan’s flyover, the letter states that Marines worked with Southern California TRACON for air traffic control coordination. Kiff said TRACON generally is operated out of San Diego.
He has previously said that John Wayne Airport officials did not seem to be aware of the Callahan flyover.
“On March 24, 2012, the funeral fly-over was executed with a flight of four F/A-18s that were in radio communication with Southern California Approach Control,” the letter states. “It consisted of a single pass at an altitude of 1,000 feet above ground level at an airspeed of 300 knots, with one F/A-18 executing a climbing left turn to an altitude of 3,5000 feet to effect the ‘missing man’ formation.”
Gardner said in an email that she planned to suggest that the city require advance notification for flyovers, which the military would then have to honor, as the Navy’s letter states.
“I think it’s good for the city to have notice,” Gardner said in an email. “In today’s world, it doesn’t take much to alarm us, and for us to be able to provide notice will allay concerns. I also think that some people, on learning of a flyover to commemorate someone might go out and watch and add their respects.”
By AMY SENK / THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
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