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SWAT team (courtesy

There’s word that an “active shooter” in San Diego — specifically a “sniper” with a “high powered rifle” if the news media is to be trusted — is firing somewhat erratically into the air and as a result the local authorities have decided to shut down the local airport. The scene of the police standoff is directly below the approach path to San Diego’s local airport and officials are concerned that an errant bullet might hit an airliner and cause millions of dollars in damage or even some deaths. Stay tuned for more as we get it.

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  1. What’s the actual risk to an aircraft from say a .308 “sniper” rifle?? Besides a one-in-a-gazillion shot to the pilot’s face? Being somewhat serious here, my aviation knowledge is pretty limited but I know there are many redundant systems.

    • Risk to the pressure vessel/airframe (at low altitude there is no differential) is probably zero.

      Lucky shot taking out hydraulics or electronics while on final approach could be a bit of a problem.

      Most likely you would hit passengers since they are crammed in like cattle.

      • A .308 could take out an engine, shouldn’t bring the aircraft down. Hydraulics are redundant systems, for the most part, effect on flight would be negligible. Allowing certain types of people to understand that for the price of a couple .308 cartridges you can “shit” down an airport indefinitely could easily be HUGELY destructive.

        • “What’s the actual risk to an aircraft from say a .308 “sniper” rifle??”

          I’d say a .308 in the hot section of an engine would shut it down fairly quickly and loudly.

          If you’re committed to the takeoff, fly the emergency procedures to the letter and bring it around and land it. If it happens on approach-landing, it’s not as critical but roll out may be longer.

        • They shoot frozen turkeys into airplane engines. A 15lb bird hitting the engine at 100mph has double the energy of a .308. It would take several lucky magic bullet level shots to bring one down with a non anti material rifle.

        • @B They don’t shoot frozen turkeys at turbines. They do shoot biologic material at them to replicate bird injestion. The frozen bird story orignated from the windshield testing for Lear Jets back in early 70s, when they forgot to thaw a store bought chicken and shot at the windscreen. There are some that question the legitimacy of that story as well.

          That being said, never over estimate or underestimate the ability of FOD to kill an engine. I’ve seen engines eat multiple birds, hiccup and come back, and I’ve seen a piece of metal the size of a quarter wreck an engine and cause it to die an ugly death in a under a minute.

          In this case, a lucky shot from Bankers Hill, even if it casued instantaneous catastrophic engine fail/fire, they would already be in landing configuration, less than 2 miles from the field and would most likely, bump up power in the good motor and continue the approach to landing rather than risk waving off and changing configurations.

        • Titanium blades spinning at 12 zillion RPM chew up chickens and spit them out, but .308 bullets ding them to the point where the balance is off enough to cause them to self destruct in seconds at those RPM. Even if you throw the bullets into the intake by hand, engine at idle, never mind at 2500 fps.

      • Hitting any passengers would require a pretty gnarly shot – pretty much the entire bottom half of most passenger aircraft is used for cargo, so for practical purposes the bottom is pretty well-armored. The only way in is to go through the side directly into the cabin, which means you have to deal with an angular velocity of up to 150+mph (roughly typical landing speed for a 747 in good weather). I think the biggest threat would be somehow causing catastrophic engine failure, but the plane is basically already on the ground by the time it’d be close enough for a single round to do that kind of damage (one round is all you’re going to have time for). Flight-essential systems like hydraulics all have at least one level of redundancy. Also worth noting that while thin, the protection provided by the aircraft’s structure wouldn’t be insignificant – a round fired from the ground is most likely going to hit at a significant angle and 1/8″ of aircraft aluminum might be just enough to break it up.

        Simply put, the most damage you can really do is to everyone’s patience when the ground crew finds a dent or crack in a turbine blade and has to take the plane off the flight line, making everyone wait for a replacement.

        • The “skin” on the sides of an aircraft can be as thin as 0.036″ (really thick aluminum foil…)

        • I believe most aircraft skin is closer to .062, however there are sections of the air frame the exceed .125″

        • It is possible to have that “golden BB” shot. Small arms fire has accounted for quite a few aircraft damaged and lost over the years. The approach to Lindberg is pretty hairy. They only land and takeoff one direction because of the terrain and encroachment. The approach path is over some pretty high terrain by Balboa park and almost co-altitude with tall buildings downtown. The departure path goes by MCRD and the old NTC basically over Seaworld. On approach in the low and slow configuration, you could put some rounds into a jet if you were properly sited and sighted.

        • A ‘golden bb’ shot is at least theoretically possible, but on commercial aircraft, pretty much everything that is necessary to keep it in the air is redundant. Including the pilots.

          You’ve basically got a better chance of winning the powerball than you do of taking down a commercial aircraft with one bullet.

    • It’s a federal crime to aim a laser pointer at pilots. Occasionally, some jackwagon does that around Houston airports and gets arrested.

      I’m guessing they get caught because the pilots actually do see the laser beam, perhaps even straight into their eyes, and they’re the ones who call it in. If a laser on its own can be aimed accurately to hit a pilot, then I’d expect rifle with a laser and scope could be, too.

      Regardless, firing at a commercial aircraft and hitting it anywhere in the fuselage is likely to scare the hell out of the passengers. Could be enoughvto induce panic and the heart attacks and accidental injuries than can accompany it.

      • Windshields are seriously bulletproof, like several inches thick to prevent birdstrike damage, a .308 isn’t going through them.

  2. Awww, sh!t–here we go. A “sniper” erratically firing a “high powered rifle” into the air, huh? Gotta love the media.

    • Cinqo-de-Novembre? err, in China already?

      Seems like South of the Border, and West of Europe, East of E. Asia, do this on special occasions. Like “Wednesday”.

  3. So local news here is claiming there is “an active shooter inside an apartment building with a long rage rifle.” So far there are no reports of injuries or deaths. Its not located directly under the airport approach path, its more that its located near the runway itself.

  4. There’s a whole bunch of “snipers” with “high powered rifles” next to the San Diego airport. It’s called MCRD

    • Bingo! Although, their marksmanship ranges are a good 35 min drive North up at Edson Range on Camp Pendleton.

      • Well, and the recruits are running around without ammo, but never lets facts get in the way of a good story…

  5. I went for my walk at the marina today and noted there wasn’t as much air traffic as I’m used to seeing at Oakland airport. Must be the San diego business slowing down South west.

  6. CALIFORNIA soon to be banning your hunting rifles. Now cougars and bears will be hunted with 22lr

  7. Firing erratically in the air now qualifies one as a sniper. This is what happens when every kid gets a trophy just for participating.

  8. You would think the use of the word sniper would only be used if someone was making accurate, long range shots. This sounds more like another mentally ill asshole who got his hands on a rifle and is spraying Bullets around.

    • I would think it a term for someone who actually shoots snipe, which is a small but agile game bird, in which case shooting at one might appear ‘erratic’ but I digress

      • The first time I went aboard ship, the watch dude say’s “So your the new “Snipe”? I didn’t know what a “snipe” was, so I just looked dumb and, and said, I guess so.
        For all you Landlubbers, a “snipe” on a Naval ship is someone who works below deck, in the fire room, or engine room.

        • Geoff
          Before I got in the “gun” gang I had to report to a nasty old chief. He told my buddy and I to get a bucket of steam, that he had some clams he wanted to cook.
          We found a heavy solid bucket, then went to the machine shop and welded on a sheet steel lid. We then cut a hole in the lid and welded on a sort of faucet thingy.
          When the chief was out of the fire room, we went down there, put on some heavy gloves and then opened this bleed off steam valve and actually shot a stream of steam into the bucket and closed the valve before all the pressure was gone.
          We then found the chief, and presented or prize. His eyes got big as saucers when he open that valve. We all had a good laugh, and he treated us better after that.

    • San Diego is too dam close to “Ma-he-ko”, Parts of Texas are too, but at least there, you can carry a gun.

  9. The writer apparently appears to be firing off typos in the air.

    Imagine, a whole airport has been SHIT down. haha That is a lot of poop!

  10. That’s some crappy editing right there.

    > local authorities have decided to shit down the local airport.

    Hey staffers, I’m an engineer with delusions of majoring in English. Howzabout you send me your drafts for proof reading before you post?

  11. Hmmm, right when Mr. Newsom is trying to pass his new gun laws? A little too convenient if you ask me..

  12. It started out as a domestic. Looks like nobody is hurt so far, and the “sniper” (hahahahahah) is a candidate for suicide by cop.

    • That is about it in a nutcase…err…nutshell.

      San Diego PD normally takes the wait ’em out approach unless developments put others in imminent danger.

      I’m sure the Associated Press et al, and eventually the antis and the disarmament pols like Newsom and Harris, will play this up for everything it’s worth, outlandish lies and all.

      Sniper? “(hahahahahah)” is very appropriate.

      As Captain Colon explained above, affecting catastrophic damage to a heavy on final about to enter landing flare is nothing more than an anti’s wet dream. If a shot were to pierce the aircraft skin, the biggest headache would be for maintenance to ascertain exactly what damage might have occurred to interior components.

  13. I wonder if a member of a swat team has ever paid or got someone to fire off a few shot near something important, just so they could get called out and make an excuse for their existence?
    Like maybe some kid who doesn’t want to go to school, calls in a bomb threat.

    • I find that idea rather farfetched. “You want me to do something to call the SWAT team down on me? Explain how this is supposed to end well for me. “

      • I will “esplain” it to you. The idea would be to get the team out in the open, folks could see where their tax dollars are going. Your not suppose to fire off a few shots and stand there like a dummy, until they locate you.
        Your suppose to split, long before they get there.

  14. If the news media is to be trusted…

    So of course the incident bears ZERO resemblance to the feverish “breaking news.”

    At this point there’s no “if” about it. We’re better off assuming everything they’ve said is rumor, hearsay, or outright fiction until we hear from the real professionals who are actually investigating the scene (sometimes not even then, because “journalists” are still involved in transmission).

  15. The so-called sniper, identified as a black man who is 32 years old, 5 feet, 11 inches and about 290 freakin’ pounds, is now in custody and demanding Mickey Ds and Twinkies. Nobody injured AFAIK.

    Who wants to bet that the “high powered rifle” was a twenty-two?

    • I was an evil black rifle. With “extended capacity clips.” Therefore it must have been a “high powered” rifle, because all black rifles are High Powered, doncha know. Hunting rifles won’t harm a bunny rabbit. Or a duck. Elmer tells me so.

      Next, San Diego will follow suit with LA and SF and ban large capacity magazines.

  16. Gee I just got here and missed the typo(it’s fixed). Not that funny-I’d be more worried actual people were shot and not a freakin’ jet…

  17. With all the hunting rifles that have brought down 747s lately…I think the airport was shutdown to make the gun part of the story bigger…gun causes inconvenience for hundreds.

    • God forgive me! That’s the worst piece of video I’ve ever watched! I’m ashamed to admit that I watched all the way to the end. What on earth got into to go past the 5 second mark.

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