What Were the Jets Overhead Saturday Morning?

Patch readers curious about jets that may have been F-5s going low over Walnut Creek.

There have been some impressive displays in the sky over Walnut Creek in recent days.

Of course, the big attention-getter was the flight of the space shuttle Endeavour Friday morning. The next morning, there were some jets flying by at a relatively low altitude that caused a few questions from Patch readers, including a couple who thought they might be Russian F-5 jets.

Commenters on the Calguns blog speculated it might be older aircraft refurbished by the military doing war game exercises, or vintage jets for the shooting of a period movie.

Anyone have more definitive word on what we saw on Saturday morning? Tell us in the Comments.

Creek Diva September 24, 2012 at 06:12 PM
I live close to downtown and we heard them. Loud suckers!
Curtis Haake D.C. September 24, 2012 at 06:18 PM
The Russians only flew captured F5E's for evaluation to help develop the MiG 23 advanced and MiG 29. The U.S. Force, Marines, Navy, NASA still fly them as trainers and dissimilar aircraft/aggressor training. Sometimes DOD paints them in a Russian paint theme for the aggressor squadrons.
Lance Howland (Editor) September 24, 2012 at 07:25 PM
Curtis: Thanks for the info. During what era did the Russians/ Soviets fly these captured jets? Vietnam-era? (their) Afghanistan era? -- Lance Howland, editor, Walnut Creek Patch
AmyWC September 25, 2012 at 01:02 AM
They sure were loud! From view on my balcony, they appeared to take a few wide "laps" around Mt. Diablo, then flew away, but the sun was in my eyes so I couldn't get a close look at what type of planes they were.
WC-Independent September 25, 2012 at 03:50 PM
I saw 4, or the same two that circled twice. Pretty low and powerful. About 10:20am on Saturday.
Don Eng September 25, 2012 at 03:52 PM
I presumed they were part of the Monterey Airshow. If it's that loud on the ground, it's hard to imagine how it sounds in the cockpit!
Tom B September 25, 2012 at 10:26 PM
The picture shows F-5's. They are U.S. built fighters that are made by Grumman and exported all over the world. The Russians never produced them and only "captured" them in the sense that they acquired some from Vietnam after the fall of South Vietnam. You might recall seeing F-5's in the movie Top Gun where they were painted black and played fictional Soviet MIG-28 fighters. The California International Air Show (formerly the Salinas Air Show) was held this last weekend so I would assume the planes that flew overhead were participants in that show. Both Turkey and Switzerland have aerial demonstration teams that fly F-5's but I've never seen either teams with camouflage paint jobs. As Curtis said, they could have been U.S. military planes since the Navy and the Air Force have used F-5's to represent "aggressor aircraft" and often paint them to look like a foreign air force.
Aric Martinez September 26, 2012 at 01:13 AM
Thanks Tom B. I thought they were F-16's but they looked to small. F-5's make sense and this is what Viper and Jester used in Top Gun. Why can't we get buzzed more often in the East Bay?
Greg Tinfow September 27, 2012 at 12:33 AM
The aggressor jets in Top Gun were Douglas A-4 Skyhawks, flown by Top Gun pilots at a reimbursement rate of $8600/hour. The Skyhawk was a small and nimble Navy and Marine Corps subsonic attack aircraft (aka the Bantam Bomber), built by Douglas (later McDonnell Douglas from 1954 until 1979. They were used as adversary aircraft by the Navy until 1993 and were retired from U.S. service in 2003. The Blue Angels flew them, until they were replaced by F-18s in 1986. They have been used by a number of countries, and are still in use by the Brazilian Navy. John McCain was flying an A-4E when he was shot down by a surface-to-air missile over Hanoi in 1967.


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