WATCH: Air National Guard Lands Jet on Michigan Highway, Takes Off in Military First

by Shelby Scott

Military training exercises have expanded and transformed with the advent of newer, more efficient technologies. Because of the international race to acquire the best-performing military weapons and equipment, the Michigan Air National Guard completed a unique training exercise Thursday. The exercise saw several jets land and take off on the civilian road of State Highway M-32. Check it out below as one of the four aircraft races toward takeoff down the highway.

In order to run the training exercise, the Michigan National Guard coordinated with residents of the area. They also worked with local utility companies and municipal emergency management agencies. Through proper coordination with local authorities, the exercise now deemed “Thunder Landing Zone,” or “Thunder LZ,” was a success.

According to mission commander, U.S. Airforce Lt. Col. Brian Wyrzykowski, the Thunder LZ mission intended to “give pilots the opportunity to land in an austere environment that they’re not used to.” He continued, “Our adversaries have advanced weapons systems and advanced technology that they can use against us, so we need to be able to operate efficiently in austere situations and gain proficiency in those operations.”

The mission consisted of six crewmembers who operated four A-10 Thunderbird IIs. The aircrafts are described as “survivable twin-engine jet[s]” capable of performing “operations in and out…of the front lines.” According to the FOX News article, the small craft has a short takeoff and landing capability, making the jets the best option in performing the latest military exercise.

Local Residents Showed Great Enthusiasm for the Military Exercise

While the closing of a civilian highway would reasonably irritate local populations, the military exercise received a lot of support. Because officials properly handled the coordination of the exercise, local residents directly knew of the situation via military representatives concerning the launch of Thunderbird LZ.

According to Col. Jim Rossi, commander at the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center, the mission saw a lot of support and enthusiasm. “We actually met with those homeowners directly,” he said, “and the level of support we received from the direct interactions has been, in my mind, unprecedented.”

Nevertheless, the ability to experience military aircraft lands and takeoffs has to be rather enticing as well. After all, it’s not too frequently civilian citizens experience military training exercises in their hometown.

However, Col. Rossi also shared that, “[The locals are] such a patriotic group of Americans…up here, [and they’re] willing to support and are as excited as we are to make this happen.

Luckily, all went over well. The patriotic locals were able to both support the military exercise and go about their normal lives the following day. However, the video is nerve-wracking as the jets’ wingtips appear to be rather close to both tree and power lines. I suppose that’s the whole point of the mission though.