You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

History made as 6 military aircraft land on northern Michigan highway

WPBN Traverse City/Cadillac logo WPBN Traverse City/Cadillac 8/6/2021 Josh Kurman
UP NEXT
UP NEXT

The sound of traffic transformed on a Northern Michigan highway Thursday morning.

Usually, when planes land and take off in Alpena, they do it at the regional airport, but on Thursday, the United States military did something it had never done before, landing and launching modern aircrafts on a shutdown stretch of Michigan Route 32.

The landings and takeoffs were all part of Operation Northern Strike, the annual Air National Guard training that brings troops from around the country to practice their skills.

Even overcast weather couldn’t keep Michigan from making history as six modern military aircraft landed on a U.S. highway for the first time ever.

Around 9 a.m. Thursday, the first A-10 touched down. The others were soon to follow.

Over the course of about two hours, the training exercise wrapped up on M-32.

"This is all part of a new initiative by the Airforce called Agile Combat Employment,” Lt. Col. Brian Wyrzykowski, mission commander for the training event, said. “We are changing the way we present our forces for combat."

Related Facebook post

Shared from Facebook

Nearly six months of planning for a few hours of training.

This event brought together groups from the Alpena Fire Department all the way to the Michigan Department of Transportation.

A massive amount of teamwork and communication on all ends and the effort was a lesson in preparing for moments like that.

“I wouldn’t say there’s anything in general driving this, it’s just an understanding of the need to be ready,” Wyrzykowski said. “It’s readiness, military readiness, we always have to stay ready. So that’s a big part of why it’s important now.”

The cost of this practice is lumped in with the overall cost of the 2021 Northern Strike training.

According to those involved, the operation went smoothly, even with some last-minute fixes.

“We did some extra mowing, tree clearing, removed some signs this morning to make sure there would be no obstacles,” MDOT North Region Communication Representative James Lake said.

Airforce personnel on-site explained a normal runway is around 6,000 feet, but on Thursday, pilots only had 5,000.

Even so, they explained that in the end it’s still landing an airplane and that’s what they train to do.

There are no tests like this planned moving forward, but they plan to continue working on the air force’s agility.

During the exercise, power had to be cut to about 61 homes and businesses. It was back on by about 1 p.m. Thursday.

Related Facebook post

Shared from Facebook

AdChoices
AdChoices

More from WPBN Traverse City/Cadillac

WPBN Traverse City/Cadillac
WPBN Traverse City/Cadillac
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon