The low flyover at an Iowa-Ohio State football game last November effectively ended Maj. Christopher Kopacek’s career in the Air Force. But the pilot didn’t go down without a fight, and his allies in the battle included a U.S. congressman from Des Moines.
Rep. Leonard Boswell, then a member of the House Armed Services Committee, interceded on behalf of Kopacek and defended the dangerously low flyover, according to an Associated Press report. Boswell, a retired Army helicopter pilot, wrote to the investigating officer, saying in part:
“I’ve reviewed the video footage of the flyover and see no aircraft out of formation or distressed because of the altitude. I was also informed there were other issues that the pilot had to make a quick decision to change his altitude level. We believe Major Kopacek made the most safe possible altitude change for a successful flyover.”
Meanwhile, USAF investigators found that the T-38s cleared the scoreboard by 58 feet, and the pressbox by 16 feet. They also found that the jets were flying at an altitude of 176 feet (when the ceiling for such flyovers is 1,000 feet). But hey, there were only 70,000 or so folks in the stadium, what could have gone wrong?