Roanoke Reg. Airport: Military Exercise to Blame for Heavy Plane Activity

Photo of a C-130 Aircraft courtesy of the U.S. Department of Defense

Roanoke VA, - It's not uncommon to see a military jet or two fly across the sky at times for training purposes.

Monday night, however, social media blew up with reports of over a dozen, large and loud planes in strange formations around 9:30 p.m.

ABC 13 received reports of the unusual aircraft activity from Elkins, WV to the New River Valley, into Roanoke and Lynchburg, and south into Martinsville. Someone even reported seeing almost 22 planes on our Facebook page from Myrtle Beach, SC.

According to Roanoke Regional Airport Spokesperson Sherry Wallace, 19 C-130 airplanes were flying over the area as part of a planned military exercise.

Wallace said that the military is not required to let the airport or the public know about such exercises, but understood that the unusual activity alarmed many, catching people throughout the area by surprise.

The airport tower in Roanoke reported the activity, then calls inquiring about the planes started coming into the airport at 9:41 p.m., Wallace said.

When asked about the frequency of such an involved exercise in our area, Wallace said the event was a rarity for Roanoke.

"That's a lot of C-130's, Wallace said. "They are very large and loud planes. I haven't witnessed anything like that in my nearly eight years of working year," Wallace added.

Reached by phone Monday night, a National Weather Service forecaster at their Blacksburg office said their office sometimes gets reports of such activity, but they had no calls into their office.

Wallace said the military will often use helicopters to fly over our mountains for training in places like Afghanistan, but the plane activity was an oddity for our area.

-ABC 13 Meteorologist Jamey Singleton