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May-06-2016 13:14printcomments

Salem Reverberates as Retired Military Plane Flies Over

The Oregon Military says what took Salemites as a military event was in fact just an old plane landing.

Retired military plane caused concern as it flew over Oregon's capital city.
Photo by Bonnie King,

(SALEM, Ore.) - The thundering roar of a huge military plane was heard over south Salem this afternoon, rattling windows and causing not a little intrigue into what this plane was doing here.

The military plane that we all thought it was is a Boeing E-3 Sentry, commonly known as "AWACS" an airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft. An AWACS can coordinate every aircraft in the area for a hundred miles or more, depending on the area.

The huge plane that made four or more passes over Oregon's capitol city was actually not the ominous plane in question.

According to the Oregon Military Department, it is a civilian aircraft, no longer a military one. It may be privately owned, or being retired.

"The pilot made several fly-overs to correctly judge the length of the airstrip, which is a bit shorter than preferred for such a large aircraft," said Chris Ingersoll of Oregon National Guard Public Affairs.

Using retired military planes for creative purposes is not uncommon, however, seeing them flyover can be somewhat disconcerting for the surprised onlookers.

Some theorized that the would-be military exercise could have been connected to a visit to our fair state by the Donald Trump campaign. This appears to be unfounded, as the older-model plane was indeed only set to safely land, perhaps for it's last time.


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Melly Mel May 17, 2016 7:00 am (Pacific time)

The E-3 is not retired as they have flown over 10 of these out of Davis Monthan Air force base in Tucson, Arizona for the past 7 days or so. Sounds to me like they're utilizing these and not just testing them.

RetiredAF-33yrs May 10, 2016 10:08 pm (Pacific time)

As a former military journalist, having worked with journalist from around the world (print, television and radio), it never surprises me when they get their so-called-facts from pure speculation. I saw the plane, it was not an U.S. Air Force E-3 AWACS. It appeared to be a Boeing E-767 which is platform Boeing has used for foreign military sales as their airborne command and control aircraft. The aircraft did not have any country markings indicating it's intended purchaser. It was "shooting approaches" which is very normal - they already know the length of the runway because every airport data is published and updated monthly. Oh, and rattling windows is pretty dramatic, editorializing.

Anonymous May 9, 2016 12:52 pm (Pacific time)

The E-3 is not retired. 

Annonymous May 7, 2016 4:09 pm (Pacific time)

It is ALLEN03, a NATO E-3A at Boeing Field that tests upgrades for NATO's E-3 fleet. It is not privately owned. It is not being retired. 

Anonymous May 7, 2016 2:41 pm (Pacific time)

There is a NATO E-3 AWACS that Boeing currently has in Seattle... it was out and about yesterday testing... that's gotta be it, it flies under a Boeing callsign and doesn't belong to the USAF... that's probably why the Oregon Military Department doesn't know that it's military and thinks it Civilian.

Anonymous May 6, 2016 10:40 pm (Pacific time)

Thanks for the story. First link hit on Google.

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