The thing about fighter jets is that just about every developed nation in the world has some, and while the capabilities of these aircraft vary greatly from platform to platform, it’s hard to withhold the awe you experience seeing any one of these purpose-built aviation marvels do their thing. And for the most part, those “things” you see them do tend to fall within a short list of stunts that can be conducted within the range of your eyesight: barrel rolls, loops, and high speed passes.
The high-speed pass is more than an exercise in speed, of course; it’s all about precision control of the aircraft, zooming low over people or structures to deliver maximum effect while traveling at speeds no aircraft should achieve unless the only obstacles in the vicinity are clouds or opposing jets. If you’ve ever been to an airshow and seen a fighter jet execute this spectacular stunt, you’re already aware what an incredible sight it can be to behold. If you haven’t, just imagine the massive amounts of noise and power you witness as Formula One cars whip past you on a high-speed straightaway, but put the car above your head and double up the power output a few times over.
Here in the United States, our pilots are among the most well trained and highly disciplined in the world, with strict rules and guidelines in place to ensure not just their safety, but the survivability of the aircraft. A single F-35, for instance, costs the government somewhere in the neighborhood of $100 million. That means a showboating fly-boy with a knack for dangerous stunts wouldn’t only be gambling with his life and lives of those around him, but also with a piece of equipment that would cost the average household income of more than 1,600 American families for a year to replace.
Fortunately (for the internet), not all of the world’s nations have such strict guidelines regarding what is deemed acceptable behavior for their aviators (or maybe their aviators just aren’t as concerned about the repercussions of their actions) and from time to time, you get videos like this:
That’s a Soviet era Su-24 being flown by a Ukrainian pilot that has not been identified at an altitude that looks like it might be only slightly higher than the tail fins on these planes. The aircraft on the tarmac appear to be Su-24s as well, making their tail fins just about 20 feet tall… and the flyby only a bit higher than that.
The Su-24 Fencer, it’s worth noting, was purpose built for flying low-altitude strike missions over difficult terrain, but you’ll be hard pressed to find another pilot willing to push that concept to such an extreme.