Fear factor: Jumbo jet turns over Scott Stadium

news-planeoverscottstadium-medAnd then it headed off to CHO.

Some UVA football spectators felt fear pangs Saturday when a low-flying jumbo jet appeared over the field. The craft's large size, slow speed, and appearance over a loaded sports stadium a day after the anniversary of 9/11 combined to stoke concerns that displaced–- momentarily at least–- the first touchdown by the opposing team.

It turns out the plane was merely the ride home for that opposing team, Texas Christian University, which won the game 30-14. The American Airlines charter had gone up to Dulles International Airport for catering and cleaning, and it was simply heading back to Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport, according to American spokesperson Tim Wagner.

"There's absolutely nothing unusual about it," says Wagner, confirming an online report that the plane in question was a Boeing 757-200, a vehicle that can hold up to 234 passengers, a large size for Charlottesville, but well within the capacity of CHO's 6,001-foot runway.

When football fans saw the plane, according to data on the online flight-tracking service FlightAware, it had slowed from its top speed that afternoon of 348mph and was traveling just 167-188mph at an altitude around 2,500 feet. The plane appeared to be engaged in what aviators call its "procedure turn," the pre-landing course reversal pilots typically make to line up with the runway.

In recent days, there have been reports that another 757 has been doing touch-and-go landings at CHO. Nothing unusual about that, the airport director says.

Had the TCU charter been commanded by massacre-minded terrorists, the death toll might have been lower than other recent Saturdays, as UVA officials reported that September 12's Scott Stadium attendance was 48,336 fans, the lowest tally in 10 years.


Correction: Wagner's quote above was "There's absolutely nothing unusual about it. (The un- in "unusual" was missing in the original version of this story.

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quote: DENVER (Sept. 22) -- "Counterterrorism officials have issued security bulletins to police around the nation about terrorists' desire to attack stadiums, entertainment complexes and hotels � "

And people thought it was hilarious when I suggested the John Paul Jones arena could well become a target. Sooner or later people might realize I in fact do know what I am talking about more often than not.


From todays washington post ... seems there are reasons to worry!!!!

This is the year 2009.

The last paragraph is reality, whether we like it or not.

that last paragraph is distasteful.

Obviously Hawes Spencer used very little brain power when writing that last paragraph. In absolutely horrible taste, as was the subsequent comment from Gasbag.

Interesting, the women seem to be the ones bothered by this comment.
Maybe another case of men are from mars and women from venus.

Although funny, and something immature I would say to my friends, that last paragraph should not have found it's way past the editor. They must be asleep at the switch again. It's hard to be considered a serious journalist when you write and print something like that.

I would disagree. The Hook is one of a kind in our town --and they are by far the most willing to call it as it is and yes, this is hard for some to swallow, but sometimes the truth hurts. Where would we be if they were like all the rest and stayed away from anything controversial. As they say in show biz-- you can't please all the people all the time but the show must go on.

quote: ".... that last paragraph. In absolutely horrible taste, as was the subsequent comment from Gasbag."

I can do you one better. Just imagine if terrorists hijack another large commercial plane and crash it into the John Paul Jones arena one evening. What's the largest attendence on record at JPJ? On top of those killed by the initial impact, UVA and MJH couldn't possibly begin to handle the seriously injured.

Why do people stick their head in the sand and assume the 9-11 foolishness can't or won't happen again? It's coming, it's gonna happen sooner or later. The world is full of crazy people who HATE the USA and all we stand for.

By the way, a free clue for some of you....

the author is the editor. Duh.

I think that Hawes Spencer IS the editor. The hook is his baby, just like the paragraph in question.

I have absolutely no objection with this piece. The HOOK is rock solid and correct to raise an eyebrow. Thank you.

Reality Check, heard one today,sound like fighter jets to me.

Wonder if this will reach the outrage level of the Danish Cartoons. Maybe Hawes better plan his getaway.


People, people, a sense of humor is a very good thing to keep in good working order. The last paragraph cracked me up, poor taste or not. Come on--lighten up.

AJ, do I detect some jealousy ?

Planes flying low to land at CHO fly directly over my house or near neighbors several times a day. Although they are usually not jumbo jets (although i wouldn't be surprised if the described plane also flew over my house). It is not only annoying for noise (although the helicopters are much worse), it is a bit bothersome to note that they always land right over town. By comparison, who cares about one jet over Scott Stadium....

my only hope was that the plane was slowing down to pick up Al Groh and take him far, far away....

Everyone knows attendance is down. If you would go support your team like your supposed in the first place then we wouldn't talking about this. Yeah, everyone's a fan when their winning. All for one and one for all. Yeah right. It is a distasteful comment. I'll be there at the next game giving them my support.

If this were a newspaper always worried about being " in good taste" I'd stop reading. We've got lots of those boring papers to chose from---give me " horrible taste" any day of the week --

And on top of all that, a 757 isn't a "jumbo jet." That term is reserved for wide-body dual-aisle aircraft, of which the 757 isn't one. The 757 replaced the 727 in the Boeing line, with two engines rather than three.

At least he didn't use the f-word like Bob McDonnell. That's what I'd call bad taste.

Republican nominee for governor Bob McDonnell may have to answer for an obscene slip of the tongue. On live radio Friday, the former Attorney General used the "f-word" when talking about transportation funding.


Is the 757 the airplane that's been making so much racket over downtown the past few afternoons? It's been happening around 3pm and we were wondering if it was low-flying military transport jets or something like that.

Yesterday (Monday), a fighter jet came across Pantops Mountain. I have no idea what kind, but it was definitely a fighter. Also have no idea what he/she was doing. Probably just routine training.

The jet or aircrafts of this past Monday and Tuesday could have been from the POWMIA memorial that the ROTC program was doing. They had ROTC students on grounds in memory of those lost. I know they had an aircraft go over grounds yesterday.. you couldn't help but hear it.. I think everyone is terrified in their own way of what could happen next, especially around 9/11..

As for who's right and who's wrong in this paragraph or that one.. why can't we all learn to love our land.. and those we share it with.. if mankind would just take one moment.. to say "Thank you" when someone merely opens a door or say "Good Morning" to people you pass each day.. those few words, could make a difference.

So, think before you react.. you just might make someones day a little brighter.

Remember GT, you do have a choice read the Daily Progress.

Maybe the attendance is down because there are actually people who realize that worshipping a bunch of jocks who drink too much, play too much, waste teachers time too much, and are rewarded for it is a stupid thing to do.

Is enrollment down at UVA? Because if it is, than that fighter jet wouldn't incinerate nearly as many undergrads (if it was piloted by a massacre minded terrorist). Sure, he'd take out a few more than the Virginia Tech shooter did, but just imagine all the sundressed and popped collared corpses that could be littering the lawn!!!

What I can't wait for is some airplane flying over Foxfield! Imagine all the sunburned, beer sweaty, psuedo-preppies that could be taken out!!

Keep up the good work Hawes and let's all allow our imagination to think up as many epic disaster-related scenarios as possible!

Get your heads out of the sand. Something bad WILL happen again....it's only a matter of time. Islamofascists want you and I dead, that's a fact. But take every opportunity to embrace those who are not fanatics. They know the truth, too.

It's this type of writing that keeps me comming back for more... lighten up people. The DP is boring and tired... and also safe. So if that's what you prefer, then that's what you should read. I'll take the egde of the Hook and it's colorful input from it's readers any time. Keep it up & GO HOOS!

Music Lover is right: the 757 is not a Jumbo, it's not even a heavy aircraft. It is controlled by ATC as a heavy due to the "heavy like" vorticies produced by it's wing tips, but lacks the actual weight to be considered as such. Just thought I'd share...

My 2 cents - The reason the last paragraph is problematic is because it doesn't fit. A newspaper story is supposed to include only relevent facts, reported in a neutral, non-biased voice. The entire article reads that way...until you get to that last paragraph, then the tone slips up. It doesn't matter if a terrorist-hijacked jetliner were doing a flyby over the Stadium filled with 10 people or 10,000 - that's not the reason the public was concerned, which the author doesn't seem to understand. The public was concerned because a low flying jetliner was cruising over an area that doesn't normally see airliner traffic that low, or that slow. So the author tacking on this snarky comment about what the death toll would have been on that day versus another day had it been a terrorist hijacking, is irrelevent and not high quality, consistent journalism-level writing. I say, pick a style of writing and stick with it. Either make the whole article "snarky indie newpspaper" style, or make the whole thing professional. Not a mix of both. It doesn't work.

Alert Alert --disaster drill today at Scott Stadium --this is just a test so please don't call the press !

I'm sure the last paragraph was just Hawes' way of getting in a little dig about the attendance, or lack thereof, at the football game. He probably should have thought it through a little more; it was a bit morbid.

9-11 again?

It's bad enough when some local yokels are amazed at a 757 landing at CHO (btw the Air Force does practice approaches at CHO with a 757 ALL the time) but when a local paper carries it as "news", it's incredible. I fly American Airlines VERY frequently so maybe I can take pics, inside and out, of one of their 777s or 767s. I'll give it to the Hook and Daily Progress and they can run special editions with news and info on them thar amazin flyin machines. Maybe Beth Duffy can also handle a special assignment on American Airlines aircraft and have it on the 6:00 news every day for a week. I'll even get her into the AA Admirals Club at IAD or DCA and she can report on that "incredible" place. She should wear her "Sunday go to meetin" clothes though.

The Richmond game wasn't the lowest attn. last year?

I'd like to reply to editor or Gasbag Self Ordained Expert or psychologist...

I like to think I have a good sense of humor. However this is in poor taste, no question about it.

You're right, the fact that it is 2009, the fact that it can happen to anyone, at anytime and anywhere, is why it shouldn't be taken lightly.

I'm sure if this really did happen, and one of your loved ones was killed, I'm very confident that the next day you would not be writing like this.

Think about it, really think about it, would you? I don't think you would think it was too funny then.

When I first read the article, I didn't realize it was the Hook. Now that I know, it was almost expected, and not a surprise to me any more, even some of your comments that followed.

You're kind of like the good old UVA Marching Band, poor taste, so what. Well you saw what happened to them. You're next.

9/11 is going to happen again! It's inevitable!! I mean, it happened once, so therefore it must happen again. It's only logical. And where else would they hit but Charlottesville? Routinely ranked one of the best places to live. If they really wanted to destroy freedom, this would be the place!

As far as JPJ: let us imagine the possibilities there! Jessica Simpson Concert? Lotta teeny-boppers amongst the corpses. George Strait? Maybe we'd be able to recover some charred chaw tins.

What would really be awful would be the U2 concert. Except for those of us who don't have tickets of course. I hope the ACPD isn't discouraged from stopping the show for an hour to allow their crack K9 corps protect the stadium from the inevitable 9/11-like epic disaster!! Just because they stopped the Stones for no reason doesn't mean they shouldn't do everything they can to fight terrorism in our own backyard!!

it's this provincial, small-town conceit that amuses me. Like the terrorists would strike in lil' ol' Charlottesville.

OMG! They're probably reading the Hook's blog!!!

I'm a big fan of the The Hook........and it can do much better than that last paragraph. It's juvenile, not funny, and beneath them.

It doesn't matter what year it is. I agree with Lauren, totally inappropriate & distasteful, to put it nicely.

I had to do a double & triple-take on that paragraph, but it is what it is, very poor judgment on the writer. How does this get past the editor is beyond me.

What is the point of that last paragraph anyway? Did we really need a 'what if' scenario? I don't think it was funny at all.

Linette, I would pose the opposite. Obviously Hawes Spencer used a great deal of brain power to write that last paragraph and that's why---- I LOVE THE HOOK !

and DLIND thanks for the reminder, maybe if we all remember our time may come at any moment we will be kinder and more thoughtful and remember to smell the roses

DLind, thanks for those words of wisdom. What you suggest is incredibly important.

Plop, I think you're correct-- those are the jets I heard. I only commented on it because we don't often hear military craft overhead here in the 'ville, not because I was frightened.

As someone who knew people lost in 9/11, I don't any take offense at the last paragraph. Sardonic humor is often used to address painful topics. The likelihood of a terrorist act happening here is incredibly slight, despite what our local over-zealous Homeland Security proponents would have you believe. It's obviously meant as a bit of irony along with a slight dig at the state of UVA football. Nor does it diminish the tragedy of 9/11. Our collective memories and sense of loss are much greater than that, and can't be destroyed by a bit of humor. So, lighten up, and go with the flow.

Rick, if something bad is going to happen, it probably isn't going to happen here, okay? And the fear that some people feel is no justification for the way Homeland Security is treating our own citizens. I'm sorry, but there's no excuse for cuffing and strip-searching little old ladies in airports. I don't want people to be forced to live like that and I'll gladly take my chances on any airplane (as long as the wings have been adequately de-iced and the pilot isn't drunk, that is). If they put half the effort into watching over their own larcenous baggage handlers as they do the innocent passengers, we'd all be a hell of a lot happier.

No one is comparing The Hook to the DP or any other form of journalism medium. We read whatever we want and can comment on whatever we want. Yes, the Hook does have a sense of humor, just a sick sense.

I would bet that everyone here who doesn't have a problem with that last comment also loved the UVA Pep Band. They had a sense of humor too, just a sick one that most of the other folks didn't get. That's why they're no longer around.

Actually, what the Pep Band did mocking West VA at the Continental Tire Bolw years ago was sort of funny (I was there). It was stupid, but funny. This on the other hand is just poor taste.

Again I ask you, if this was to really happen in C'ville and your loved ones were killed, would you still think it was funny then? Would you?

Get Real, I hated the Pep Band, but had no problem with the paragraph. Didn't think it was Ha Ha funny, but had no problem with it. I don't think it's the type of humor that's meant to elicit guffawing or snickering.


The majority of the articles you write are laughable. How is it that:

-In the lead you can call the stadium "loaded" and then later mock the attendance for being the lowest in 10 years?
-Claim that a Boeing 757 is a large plane for Charlottesville because it holds 200+ passengers? And then imply that it is CHO's fault for being large enough that the plane is well within their capacity???
-Conveniently botch a quote to make your story appear less outrageous and embarrass another one of your interviewees.

You're a true journalist.

AJ, have you won any awards lately.....

2009 Virginia Press Association Award:
The VPAââ?¬Ë?Awards for Journalistic Integrity and Community Service were presented to The Hook in Charlottesville (Groupââ?¬Ë?A) and The Roanoke Times (Groupââ?¬Ë?B).ââ?¬Ë?

The Hook won for its coverage of a controversy over a new reservoir.

In scoring The Hook, the judge wrote, ââ?¬Å?While the essence of this work was old-fashioned reporting, The Hook used its Web site to provide direct access to document after document in PDFs that its readers could see for themselves. It also linked to audio from local radio talk shows on the subject. Throughout it all, the writing was clear and devoid of bureaucratese that plagues much journalism on subjects like this.”

Correction: 2008 Virginia Press Association Award
Guess we all make mistakes --

As I sat in the West side of the stadium that Saturday afternoon, I could see the plane approach. I pointed to it to get my wife's attention. That plane was obviously much larger than those that usually turn over C'ville to make a southern landing @ CHO. As the plane banked sharply, its entire underside was visible, wings pointing nearly straight up and down, and made quite an impression on those of us in the West stands.

Speaking of jet fly-overs - I have often seen low flying training missions cross northerm Greene county (and Madison). I've even called the CHO tower to ask about them. The "tower" was unaware of the planes and they were evidently below radar - just above the trees. I've been told that the terrain of Western VA & WV is much like Iran and Afganistan. Those jet can quickly get from Va Beach or Pax River - into WV and back to base within about 30 minutes. Its an awsome experience to look up and see the underbelly up a fighter jet a few hundred feet above you and then, seconds later, hear it.