The mystery of the origin of the jets that buzzed Santa Clarita on May 4 continues, but new information shows that they may have been military planes on a joy ride.
After tracking the flights on a flight tracker website, KHTS was able to identify the Flight ID of the plane and also learned that reports of two planes were correct.
The Flight ID for the two panes are Jeste02 and JSTer02 and they are described as F-16 jets, which only the military is able to operate.
The Webtrack website, which tracks flights in real time and allows for earlier flight tracking, indicates that the first plane flew from the Antelope Valley directly over Santa Clarita and out towards Camarillo, between 8:39 p.m. and 8:43 p.m., where it left the scope of the radar.
A few minutes later the plane returns to the radar and flies back over the town.
At 8:52 the plane makes a hard banking turn circling over the Newhall Ranch Road area. The plane then heads south towards Newhall and Highway 14, but now the plane with the ID of JSTer02 appears on the radar.
A representative from March Air Force stated that many radar systems cannot track a plane flying below 1,500 feet, which means that the plane could have been flying below the radar.
As the two planes flew towards Newhall and the 14 Freeway witnesses reported seeing the planes performing barrel rolls.
Ian Gregor, Communications Manager for the Federal Aviation Administration Western-Pacific Region, stated in an email, “FAA regulations state that pilots cannot perform aerobatics (loops, rolls etc.) over populated areas or below 1,500 feet altitude over unpopulated areas. However, FAA regulations do not apply to military operations.”
The two planes then flew over the 14 freeway before disappearing off the radar in the Antelope Valley.
Edwards Air Force Base officials have stated that they planes did not come from their base, however the 461st Squadron, named the “Deadly Jesters,” flies F-16 fighter Jets out of Edwards Air Force Base.
According to the Air Force Historical Research Agency the 461 Flight Test Squadron has been in operation since 1942, and currently flies under the 412 Operations Group out of Edwards AFB. The group currently tests aircraft systems.
The entire flight time for the planes, from entering the radar in the Antelope Valley to returning to the Antelope Valley, took a little more then 12 minutes, and according to the Webtrack website, the planes’ altitude never rose above 8,500 feet.
Despite presenting this information to representatives from Edwards AFB, officials there deny that the planes came from their base.
Gregor states that the FAA does not oversee military operations.
John Haire, Director of Media Relations for Edwards AFB, says that the flight ID’s and additional information provided on the Webtrack website, are not valid because it is not a FAA sanctioned website and anyone can input information on the website.
The Webtrack website is available through the Los Angeles World Airports website, and serves as a way for Southern California residents to track and identify planes to make noise complaints.
The site states “Real time and historical flight and aircraft radar data originate from the Federal Aviation Administration, FAA, ARTS radar system at the Southern California TRACON facility in San Diego. The ARTS data is downloaded and processed by LAWA’s Airport Noise and Operations Monitoring System.”
KHTS News Reporter Phil Long Contributed to this story