Shefa - Port Vila, Vanuatu (PressExposure) June 21, 2009 -- When he snagged an unstable air-to-air guided heat-seeking missile, on his long line, a Florida fisherman proved that the business of fishing is not for the faint hearted.
It appears the missile had been fired from an F-15 fighter jet, in August 2004. Floating live in the Gulf of Mexico, the missile was snagged around 50 miles off the Panhandle town of Panama City.
Salomon strapped the missile to the roof of the cabin of his boat, the Bold Venture and packed with ice. He then kept on fishing for 10 days before returning to port, with his 5,000 pounds of grouper and the missile.
Salomon said he strapped the missile to the roof of the Bold Venture cabin and packed it with ice, then continued working for 10 days. Finally he returned to port with the live missile and his 5,000 pounds of grouper.
He found a second missile only a few days later, says 37 year old Rodney Salomon. It seemed to be live as it was still emitting a beeping sound. It had lights, a gauge, and a camera. Salomon said he quite often sees missiles when he fishes in that area. "I hear them exploding over my head all the time". He was aware he was fishing only thirty miles south of a well recognized military testing area.
Helping to carry the missile ashore, 24 year old Daniel O'Neill, says he accidentally dropped it when a sharp wing point dug into his shoulder. The Sidewinder missile had US 1288 stamped on it.
The Gulf of Mexico, south of Panama City and Pensacola, is known to be a live missile practice area for both the Navy and the Air Force, since the 1940's, according to Global Security.org. "The weapons evaluation group tests around 300 missiles over the Gulf each year", said Eglin spokesman, Samuel King.
Another way to look at it is it's the sound of freedom", said a retired Navy petty officer. "They have to have some place to practice".
After Salomon had informed the authorities of his find, the missile was dismantled immediately by bomb specialists, at a nearby military base. The missile could have exploded at any moment, because of its apparently extended stay in salt water, said to the bomb squad.
Salomon told the bomb squad he wanted to keep the missile after it was made safe. His request was turned down. Officials from MacDill told Salmon he was not to bring any future missiles back to shore, but instead to contact the Coast Guard with GPS coordinates for any retrieval.
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