A stunt plane performing loops and leaving trails of smoke in the sky off of Imperial Beach has attracted attention and some grumbling by locals.
Most recently seen on Tuesday (September 6th), the small green plane has made appearances over the past few weeks, usually on weekends, performing stunts over the ocean off of the south end of the beach near Imperial Beach Boulevard, witnesses say.
"Another perk of living in IB, free air shows," said Patrick Thomas. "He does loops and he will climb and then stall it and go into a dive. I haven't seen him go upside down for any length of time, just a quick spin or two.... He has smoke going, a couple of times there's been another plane with him."
"Drives me crazy," said Ann Fox Price-Winkle on social media. "I heard somewhere that it's a Navy plane? Does anyone know for sure?"
"Over my house all day long," Mike Fisher added.
Efforts to find out who is the operator of the plane were unsuccessful. The Federal Aviation Administration said the pilot has not notified them of its flights and would not need any authorization if the flight were not over a populated area, within four nautical miles of a "federal airway," below 1500 feet, or during poor visibility conditions, according to Ian Gregor, FAA Pacific Division public affairs manager.
"If they wanted to deviate from any of those provisions, they would have to get a waiver," Gregor said.
The Naval Outlying Landing Field Imperial Beach is located about one mile inland and a half a mile south of where the plane has been spotted. Efforts to reach the Navy for comment were unsuccessful.
"We have noticed that when he's flying there's no other air traffic. That's what made us think he may be military," Thomas said.
One San Diego tourist company that gives sky tours said the plane was not theirs and they did not know whose it was. "It's a pretty common area to do that kind of thing," the manager said. "It's a big aviation area."
UPDATE 9/11, 9:30 a.m.
The FAA has identified the plane as a Bellanca Super Decathlon. "They’ve been flying outside of the San Diego Class B airspace and above the Class D airspace for the Imperial Beach Navy Outlying Field," Gregor said, adding that they have not received complaints and "we have no indication the pilot has violated any FAA regulations."