PANAMA CITY, Fla. - Some Panama City residents got a pretty big shock Tuesday morning. They witnessed a couple of military fighter jets flying abnormally close to the old airport.
"Very loud," said James Robinson, a resident in The Woods Subdivision. "I haven't heard that sound in a long time."
As former military, he knew exactly what kind of aircrafts he saw: CF 18 Hornets. But as to who they were or what they were doing, he couldn't say.
"Wheels down, flaps down is a good indication that somebody's going to put it on the ground," said Robinson.
Robin Gillam-Jenkins was out walking her dog when she saw the two aircrafts - seemingly coming towards them. As a former pilot, she estimated them at about 400 feet.
"We don't have a runway anymore for anyone to land, so there's really no reason for anybody to be flying that low," said Gillam-Jenkins. "Just kind of wondered what was going on."
According to the Royal Canadian Air Force, the planes were attempting to land at the old airport but not on purpose.
"They spotted I guess it's Sweetbay Airport which is now closed and thought it was International," said Capt. Matthew Strong with 4 Wing Cold Lake. "They called the tower and asked for confirmation. When they were doing their approach, the tower informed them no, you're actually at a closed airport."
Strong said the fighter jets were diverted from Tyndall to land at Northwest Beaches International, and when the pilots saw what they thought was the runway, they went in for a landing.
"They'd be coming in, lining up with the runway, getting prepared to land, maybe even lowering their gear," said Strong. "And then at several hundred feet before touchdown, they would just basically just fly over the field."
The aircrafts were diverted because of a minor in-field emergency at Tyndall. Both jets landed at Northwest Beaches International without incident.
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