The pilot of an F-14 Navy fighter jet that crashed into a house after taking off from Nashville’s airport had asked to shoot almost three miles into the sky, a television station reported Thursday.
Lt. Cmdr. John Stacy Bates of Chattanooga asked air traffic controllers for permission to climb 15,000 feet, or a high-performance takeoff, according to tapes from the traffic control tower obtained by WKRN.
Most commercial planes taking off from Nashville’s airport are cleared to climb to about 5,000 feet. Navy officials said the steeper climbs are not unusual for fighter pilots trying to clear a civilian airport’s airspace.
Still, witnesses compared Bates’ Jan. 29 takeoff to a scene from the movie “Top Gun.” It was so fast and steep that a Delta airline pilot listening in joked to controllers, “Delta 1-5-6-6, can we get what that other guy got?”
The controller replied, “Catch him if you can.”
Seconds later, the controller is heard calling airport operations to report the crash.
Five people, including the two-man crew, died when the plane plowed through the home of an elderly couple being visited by a friend.