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DN finds itself in fighters’ flight path


Monday morning training creates a loud distraction


With Del Norte’s relatively quiet skies, the deafening roar of a few fighter jets occupying our airspace can cause quite a distraction.

Late Monday morning, 11 fighters from the Oregon Air National Guard, mostly McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagles, rehearsed aerial maneuvers along the coast of Northern California and Oregon, including over Del Norte County. 

The spectacle of loud fighters, sounding like  thunderous rocket engines preparing for liftoff,  prompted several curiosity calls to 911 emergency dispatch and the Triplicate. 

The training involved eight F-15 Eagles from the 173rd Fighter Wing unit of the Oregon Air National Guard, based in Klamath Falls, and three additional fighter jets from the 142nd Fighter Wing based in Portland, according to 173rd officials.

As a premier training ground for fighter jet combat, the 173rd’s  mission states: “Train the Best Air-to-Air Combat Pilots...”

And combat train they did.

Monday’s training was the first time that some pilots involved flew an F-15, transitioning from training in a Northrop T-38 Talon, according to the 173rd public affairs officer, Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson.

Less experienced pilots (accompanied by instructor pilots) were asked to perform offensive and defensive maneuvers head-to-head against much more senior pilots as a way to practice dogfighting.

“We prefer the term air-to-air combat,” Thompson said.

Although the 173rd typically practices east of its base in Klamath Falls, sometimes venturing near Bend and Medford, Ore., on Monday they were practicing in the Del Norte region because the Portland-based 142nd typically operates over coastal and offshore areas, Thompson said.

Fighter jet training in earshot of Crescent City is not a frequent event, but not unheard of either.  

Reach Adam Spencer at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it


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