Friday January 18, 2013

BENNINGTON -- The Vermont National Guard says fighter jets from Massachusetts may be seen over southern Vermont over the next two weeks.

The 104th Fighter Wing of the Massachusetts Air National Guard in Westfield, Mass., will be flying training missions over southern Vermont and New Hampshire," said Massachusetts Air Guard spokesman Maj. Matthew Tutti said. The training began Thursday and additional practice missions will take place on Jan. 23 and Jan. 30 during daytime hours, according to a release from the Vermont National Guard.

The exercises are intercept missions that involve F-15 jets finding and escorting non-military aircraft to a regional airport. The exercises simulate real-world procedures and typically involve escorting Civil Air Patrol Cessna planes. The practice missions are closely controlled and include exercising airspace restriction violations, hijackings and responding to unknown aircraft," according to Tutti.

"The general portion of this exercise revolves around us simulating and practicing a scramble intercept that could happen any time of day," he said.

Tutti said jets will scramble from Massachusetts to investigate why planes are in distress. "Our F-15s will then go find it and figure out the appropriate actions. This gives our pilots an opportunity to train in a real-world situation," he said.

In some cases, the civilian planes will be escorted to local airports where they may land, according to Tutti. "These are pretty involved scenarios. During that time they could be over your area circling. That’s what we don’t want the public to worry about," he said.

The Guard said the following communities in the area may experience increased aircraft activity during the exercises: Rutland, Wells, Granville, Bennington, West Dover, Manchester, Dorset and Pawlet.