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I was wondering if anyone could help me identify this plane. I have researched military id guides, image searched, and asked several naval and Air Force friends with no result.

  • Location: off shore 20 miles south of Catalina island, California
  • Date/time: 5pm June 29, 2023

Plane flew lowish (1000ft) over our boat, turned around and did it again. It is jet powered, fuselage mount I think.

Closest match I can find is F86 Sabre or Grumman F9 cougar. Don't think it's either one though.

It appeared all grey with no markings that I could discern. The images show a camouflage pattern but I think that's shadows?

zoom in from video

best profile

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    $\begingroup$ It looks like a Hawker Hunter (don't know if it still around and if it has flown in the US though) $\endgroup$
    – sophit
    Commented Jul 6, 2023 at 6:38
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you so much Sophit! You were correct! $\endgroup$
    – Matt D
    Commented Jul 6, 2023 at 15:36
  • $\begingroup$ You're welcome 🤗 I didn't elaborate an answer because I wasn't sure if it were still airworthy but @jamiec gave a super answer 👍 $\endgroup$
    – sophit
    Commented Jul 6, 2023 at 15:51
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    $\begingroup$ If you get Smithsonian Channel, an episode of Air Warriors about the Hawker Hunter is playing periodically this week. $\endgroup$
    – MTA
    Commented Jul 6, 2023 at 19:40
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the tip! $\endgroup$
    – Matt D
    Commented Jul 12, 2023 at 5:23

1 Answer 1

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Almost certainly a Hawker Hunter, in fact the image on wiki is almost exactly the same aspect as your first picture:

One has certainly been spotted near Catalina Island before:

Here is a photo of the exact aircraft:

N330AX flight on 29th June at around 3:30pm Pacific Time did indeed take it near Catalina Island - and I will screenshot flightradar below because it wont be available forever to non paid members:

enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ Well, I'm certainly a believer. You're absolutely right, that's the plane. Amazing you pulled all that together so quickly. Thank you! I had been looking a lot and it was bothering me. BTW - we were 20 miles east of Catalina, so it all matches up. Have to say it was super fun to watch this plane fly low. Was super loud and powerful. $\endgroup$
    – Matt D
    Commented Jul 6, 2023 at 15:38
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    $\begingroup$ From two blurry photos to complete identification of not only the exact aircraft but the exact mission, in about an hour. There are no secrets any more. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 7, 2023 at 2:22
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    $\begingroup$ @A.I.Breveleri Mostly luck in this case, and the fact there really cannot be many hawker hunters in west coast USA $\endgroup$
    – Jamiec
    Commented Jul 7, 2023 at 6:28
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    $\begingroup$ This aircraft is one of a fleet of Hunters operated by ATAC, a PMC based at Point Mugu. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 7, 2023 at 9:27
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh, I think that's a tank mounted on the near wing. The first photo certainly shows wing tanks (or wing somethings). I don't see how one can distinguish a wing-mounted tank from a fuselage-mounted one in the second photo, other than that you can only see one. But you can't see the far wing at all, and if the two photos show the same plane, then the far wing's tank must be obscured by the fuselage in the second photo. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 8, 2023 at 13:30

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