No One Can Explain Exactly What Happened With These F-18s At Laguna Seca [Update: Now We Know]


Two F-18E Super Hornet fighter jets flew over Laguna Seca before this weekend’s IMSA Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge race, and they got very close at the end. Some fans reported to Jalopnik that they saw the planes touch wings. Others merely say a chunk of plane came off mid-air. Have you found a plane part somewhere in the hills around the track? We’d love to know. [Update: Wing touch confirmed! See update below.]

You can’t see anything too suspect on the broadcast, as everything’s a bit too far to get a close view or even the sound of two planes clunking wings mid-air. However, the two F-18s do get pretty close towards the end of this clip. It’s unclear whether they actually touched, however.


There was a lot of chatter after the fly-by that something at least fell off the F-18s. Witnesses at the track also say that a military helicopter appeared shortly after the mystery chunk flew off. Many figured the helicopter had to have been looking for that piece of plane.


One fan responding to driver Sage Karam was hilariously prescient with his remarks on the flyover:


We reached out to IMSA, whose spokesman did not know of any issues with the F-18 flyover. Clearly, whatever may have happened was pretty minor, as both planes were able to continue flying. We also reached out to Naval Air Station Lemoore, which was in charge of this flyover, but have not received an answer from them at the time of this writing.

So, the much-discussed flyover debris remains a mystery—that is, unless you somehow found a large souvenir in the Monterey area. Did you see the planes touch, or a piece fly off? Do you have the piece of F-18 in your living room now next to your salvaged Ferrari door? It’s time to go on a scavenger hunt, Monterey-area plane and/or car lovers—just let the NAS Lemoore folks know before you decide to keep it, please. It sounds like they may have been looking for this chunk, too.


Either way, we’d love to know the rest of the story:

CORRECTION [9/28]: While technically this was before both the WeatherTech Sports Car Championship and Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge races, this was was specifically the opening for the CTSCC support race on Saturday. This has been corrected above. Our apologies for the confusion; clearly The Pass 2.0 is still on our minds.


UPDATE [9/29]: Commander Ron Flanders sent the following statement to us, confirming that the two planes in the flyover touched wingtips:

Two F/A-18E aircraft from Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 151 inadvertently bumped wingtips during a military appreciation day flyover of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Saturday Sept. 23. Both aircraft landed safely at Fresno International Airport. A small piece of the wing tip fell off one of the aircraft over an unpopulated area. There were no injuries and the incident is under investigation.


Flanders currently serves as a Public Affairs Officer for the Naval Air Forces.

[H/T PorscheFanatic!]

Moderator, OppositeLock. Former Staff Writer, Jalopnik. 1984 "Porschelump" 944 race car, 1971 Volkswagen 411 race car, 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer GTS.


Greg Forman

This is just a trick of viewing angles. The speeds of the jets as they go overhead are identical, one is not catching the other and the jet behind would have to have an almost impossible acceleration to catch the one in front to cause a collision in the space of this video.

Not only this but when they fly in formation they don’t fly at the exact same altitudes either, just close enough to make it look like they are.

The jets were moving so fast away from everyone that the majority of people would see it from about the same angle as well and think there was a collision which there was not.