A pair of British fighter planes appear to have almost collided during a training exercise over eastern England, according to a spine-tingling photo captured by an amateur photographer.
The two Royal Air Force pilots were reportedly practicing “dogfighting”— or a close-range battle — in their Eurofighter Typhoons when the encounter happened, according to The Telegraph.
That’s when Anthony Helcoop, an amateur photographer, took a picture that seemed to show the nose of one of the fighters nearly smashing into the tail of the other.
“Just before 5 p.m. on Thursday, I snapped these two Typhoons and thought, ‘Wow, that seemed very close,’” Helcoop told the Daily Mail.
“You see them doing all sorts of maneuvers, but this one seemed quite close for comfort,” he continued. “They did appear to get very near on this occasion.”
Ministry of Defense sources told The Telegraph that the picture is likely an optical illusion caused by the angle of the Helcoop’s camera.
“If this is genuine, I suspect this may be just the angle we are looking at it,” the source told the news outlet.
“Likewise, they would have been fighting against each other, so ‘a near miss’ would not be how anyone would describe such activity, as they would be looking at each other and know where the other aircraft was and what they were doing,” the source said, adding that there is a strict 1,000-foot bubble enforced during such drills.
Helcoop said he couldn’t tell the distance between the planes from the ground — but from his perspective, “they certainly looked in close proximity.”
A collision would have been catastrophic — the jets were more than three miles in the air during the maneuvers, the Telegraph said.
The photo hobbyist said he often sees fighters training over West Pinchbeck, Lincolnshire, which is about two-and-a-half hours north of London.
“I love watching the pilots from RAF Coningsby practice combat maneuvers,” he said. “I spend a lot of time taking photos of aircraft over West Pinchbeck.”
“They are Top Guns,” he continued. “Makes you feel secure that these pilots are protecting our skies.”
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