SANTA MARIA, Calif. - If you've been wondering why we've seen jets flying in Santa Maria in recent weeks, a fleet of military jets from Ventura County are using a Santa Barbara County runway to train.
The Naval Air Station Point Mugu shut down their runway and will be using the Santa Maria Airport to train on eight military jets.
“They are having some maintenance done to their airways. So they had to move their jets out so they can keep operating and training with the US Military,” said Central Coast Jet Center VP of Operations Chris Kunkle.
The pilots are retired military personnel who are contracted through a private company.
“Right now we are training with one of the carrier strike groups out in Whiskey 291. The warning areas,” said ATAC pilot Ron Robson.
They will be doing mock missions against active military pilots.
“We can do everything from ship missions, attacking ships or air-to-air work with some of the quadrants out there acting as the bad guys essentially,” said Robson.
“It is mostly focused around electronic warfare and training via electronics,” said Kunkle.
The jets include six 1960 British Strike Fighter jets and two 1970 Israeli Interceptor jets.
“Most of our training is done in a controlled air space, what we call the warning areas, offshore military operation areas,” said Robson.
Be prepared to see more than one in the sky at a time.
“Usually there will be a flight of two that leave for their mission and it's scheduled throughout the day,” said Kunkle.
The training operations do offer more to Santa Maria than fun jet gazing.
“It's a huge thing for the city as far as bringing 25 to 30 people here to stay in hotels for two to three months,” said Kunkle.
When asked why the pilots still do it...
“Are you kidding me? Have you seen those airplanes?” laughed Robson as he gestured to the jets.
If onlookers want to try to get a glimpse of the jets taking off, they can go to 1211 Citation Court. The training will continue through March 3rd.