Mystery flights are special ops training exercise
The good news is those military aircraft shaking up parts of Marion County the past few nights have been identified; the bad news is they will be around until at least Friday.
The aircraft, which have been buzzing the area since Saturday, are coming from the University Air Center at the Gainesville Regional Airport as part of a larger training exercise in South Florida conducted by the U.S. Special Operations Command, based at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, said Maj. Mike Burns, a public affairs spokesman for the command.
The flights out of Gainesville encompass between four to eight aircraft and are made up of Black Hawks and Chinooks, Burns said.
The Chinooks, a heavy-bodied helicopter, have distinctive tandem rotor blades. Black Hawks are smaller and are the military’s go-to utility helicopter. Both have big engines and typically fly low in combat situations, which are what the exercises are simulating.
The Special Operations Command oversees special operations of the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines.
“There are no exercises in the Ocala area, but Ocala is directly in the transit route,” said Burns, who would not specifically say why aircraft were taking off from Gainesville for exercises in the Miami area.
A press releases issued by Miami Dade County advises that the exercise includes the use of military helicopters and simulated gunfire. The training is meant to prepare participants for combat missions in urban areas and to prepare forces for upcoming overseas missions, according to the release.
Read More: http://www.ocala.com/article/20130313/ARTICLES/130319857/0/APN