The internet has been abuzz over a video that appears to show a United Airlines 747 flying quite close to the Golden Gate Bridge during an air show more than a week ago in San Francisco, California. Some have expressed amazement that it would come so near the structure.
But the plane wasn’t as close as the video makes it appear, and the flight was executed as planned along an air show flight path and under the direction of an air traffic controller, a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman said Tuesday.
And the plane never flew over the bridge as some might believe from watching the video, but rather it stayed well in front of it, a United Airlines spokeswoman says.
The video, recorded during Fleet Week’s October 9-10 air show, may make a viewer believe the plane was banking over the bridge. But FAA spokesman Mike Fergus said Tuesday the radar track shows the plane’s closest proximity to the bridge was 1,200 feet, and no regulations were broken. The camera position and lens make the plane look closer than it was.
“The [position] of the aircraft can be misleading, absent anything around it to give it proper depth perception,” he said.
The plane - like other planes in the airshow, which included U.S. Navy Blue Angels - remained in airspace approved for the show by the FAA, Fergus said. And the maneuver is nothing new, with United participating in previous Fleet Week air shows as well.
“There was nothing out of the ordinary,” Fergus said.
The video may appear to show the plane flying over the bridge, but a close examination shows jet wash distorting the bridge’s image, revealing that the plane was always on the same side of the bridge as the camera. It was always on the San Francisco Bay side, rather than the Pacific Ocean side, of the structure, CNN’s Chad Myers reported.
Several other planes, including the Blue Angels, took roughly the same path, United spokeswoman Megan McCarthy said.
The air show is part of San Francisco’s Fleet Week, which honors the U.S. armed forces.
“We were proud to showcase one of our 747s in Fleet Week to celebrate our long standing partnership with the city of San Francisco,” McCarthy said in an e-mailed statement. “The fly-by was conducted as part of a well-publicized air show and with the utmost consideration to the safety of the public and the aircraft.”
CNN's Chad Myers and Deborah Doft contributed to this report.