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A tribute, and some training, as F-16s flyover was right on time Tuesday in La Crosse

Rick Solem



Part tribute, part training. That’s what many saw looking to the sky on Tuesday evening throughout Wisconsin.

Four F-16s Fighting Falcons flew over La Crosse in arrow formation just after 7 p.m., before heading east toward Tomah, Wis. It was part of a tribute from the 115th Fighter Wing out of Madison to frontline and health care workers throughout the state.

It was also some training pilots don’t get every day.

“The cool thing about the flyover is that it actually provides training in itself,” 115th Captain Leslie Westmont said Tuesday on La Crosse Talk PM. “It provides training in tactics, such as flying in a formation or getting to a specific place at a precise time.

“So, this flyover, in itself will be valuable training for the pilots, as well.”

And, the F-16s were right on schedule in La Crosse. The log said they’d get to Kenosha at 5:48 p.m., to La Crosse between 6:59-7:09 p.m. and back to Madison between 7:23-7:33 p.m.

“This week, the fighter wing is doing night training, so that’s kind of why you seen the flyover accomplished a little bit later in the evening,” Westmont added.

And they’re off… to pay tribute to ALL healthcare and frontline workers who have worked countless hours supporting the COVID-19 pandemic response effort across Wisconsin. You are our heroes! Thank you to you all!Don’t t forget to tag us with your view of the flyover tonight! @115thfighterwing See you in the sky!#americastrong #AFlyover

Posted by 115th Fighter Wing on Tuesday, May 12, 2020

For those who argue it’s a waste of taxpayer money, it was all taken into consideration. Westmont said pilots train between an hour to an hour and a half, daily in the air space above Volk Field at Camp Douglas, just east of Tomah, Wis.

But this flyover changed things up, and sort of killed two birds with one stone, as they were able to train and call it a tribute.

“We wanted to make sure we were fiscally responsible with this flyover, which is why they worked really, really hard to make sure that we fit it in to a regularly scheduled training mission,” Westmont said.

Westmont also talked of how the Thunderbirds and Blue Angels have done similar flights across the U.S. to pay tribute to workers, and it was exciting for the 115th Fighter Wing to do something for those in Wisconsin.

Host of WIZM's La Crosse Talk PM and "liberal hack" | University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point graduate | Hometown: Greenville, Wis | Avid noonball basketball player and sand volleyballer in La Crosse

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