No pilot flying a general aviation aircraft wants to wander into the path of a high-speed military jet, but that is happening with increased frequency in a block of special-use airspace north of Atlantic City, New Jersey, according to the Air National Guard fighter wing at Atlantic City International Airport.
Fortunately, there have been no accidents caused by pilots flying through the complex of restricted areas R-5002 A through F when the 177th Fighter Wing is flying its F-16 Fighting Falcons at low altitudes and high airspeed in the airspace.
A typical event happens when a pilot enters a destination or a fix into a GPS and then flies there direct, without reviewing the airspace to be transited, said Rune Duke, AOPA director of airspace and air traffic.
“AOPA works with military units across the country on their midair collision avoidance efforts and to increase pilot awareness of special-use airspace,” he said. “We want to encourage pilots to have current charts, conduct proper flight planning, check notices to airmen via the FAA’s notam search page, request radar flight following, monitor 121.5 MHz, and check the FAA's Special-Use Airspace website for scheduled use of the restricted areas.”
The 177th Fighter Wing cautions GA pilots to “always assume that R-5002 is active with hazardous activity.” It recommends pilots review this midair collision avoidance pamphlet for detailed information about operations in the area.
The unit requests that pilots who experience an incursion file a confidential report with the Aviation Safety Reporting System to help identify and address safety-of-flight issues.
The 177th Fighter Wing also works with the FAA Safety Team, giving a military airspace orientation brief at local aviation events, and often displaying an F-16 at fly-ins.