A lot of people reading this probably saw Top Gun and remember Maverick performing a fly-by over the deck of the USS Enterprise (in spite of being explicitly ordered not to do so), or saw air shows where aerobatic pilots do all kinds of cool maneuvers for the entertainment of the people on the ground.

What I didn't know was possible is that a commercial aircraft with passengers on board would be allowed to perform such maneuver over an active civilian airport (you can find the video here). The video shows the last approach and landing of a commercial pilot before retirement, in which he's allowed to perform a fly-by over the runway of Jorge Newbery airport in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Throughout the video you can hear other pilots over the radio saluting the pilot who is about to retire, and near the end you can see the passengers applaud and airport and airline personnel on the taxi runway welcoming the aircraft. It's a pretty emotional video even for someone like me who's not related in any way to the aviation community, you should see it if you can spare a couple of minutes.

Anyway, I know that there are certain traditions involved in the last flight of a pilot before retirement but I didn't know that a flyby was one of them. In order obey the rules of this site, the main question I'm asking here is:

  • What would be the right circumstances where a stunt like this would be allowed?

But I would also like to know if this kind of maneuver has ever been performed on similar circumstances over airports with more traffic or using a bigger aircraft.

  • $\begingroup$ I remember a crash where a flyby went wrong and the deaths lead to flights solely for flybys not allowing any passengers on board $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 27, 2014 at 15:29
  • $\begingroup$ @ratchetfreak Was that Air France 296? $\endgroup$
    – reirab
    Commented Apr 26, 2015 at 21:49

1 Answer 1


Essentially a flyby over the runway is nothing more than a planned and prepared go-around from a low altitude. If you say it is a stunt then it probably is not allowed under most legislations. And because of noise regulations airports aren't too happy with the manoeuvre either.

However, nobody will stop you from going around if you "forget" to put your gear down.

I have been in the cockpit on several flybys at several airports, all of them were dressed like a missed approach / go-around along the following lines:

Pilot > "Tower, Hotshot01, requesting permission for a flyby over runway XX

Tower > Negative Hotshot01, you know we can't allow that any longer due to noise restrictions. I can't prevent you from making a go around though! Cleared to land RWY XX.

Pilot > Hmm... ok, cleared to land, Hotshot01

<Hotshot 01 approaches the threshold and applies full power>

Pilot > Hotshot01, going around.

Tower > You owe me a beer now! .. <vectors back to final approach / final destination>

  • 27
    $\begingroup$ It must have been a long time ago if they were still using Roman numerals for the runways! :-D $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 27, 2014 at 16:14
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @DavidRicherby LOL! I am not going to change that now :-) $\endgroup$
    – DeltaLima
    Commented Oct 27, 2014 at 16:17
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    $\begingroup$ Heh, is that RWY XX Sinistro or Dextro? $\endgroup$
    – CGCampbell
    Commented Oct 27, 2014 at 17:06
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ "However, nobody will stop you from going around if you forget to put you gear down." I'm busting a gut over here. I think we need some quotes around "forget" though. $\endgroup$
    – Jae Carr
    Commented Oct 27, 2014 at 17:44

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