CHAMPAIGN — Those two fighter jets that thundered over Champaign-Urbana early Thursday afternoon were on a practice run for this weekend’s Illini Homecoming game.
UI athletic spokesman Kent Brown said the F-16 flyover is scheduled for the end of the national anthem at Saturday’s 11 a.m. game against Wisconsin.
The F-16s are part of the 169th Fighter Wing based at McEntire Joint National Guard Base in Columbia, S.C., said Air Force Lt. Col. Jason Heidbreder, assistant professor of aerospace studies and air operations commander for the Air Force ROTC unit at the University of Illinois.
The planes are staying overnight at Peoria International Airport. Director Gene Olson confirmed that two F-16s arrived at the Illinois Air National Guard 182nd Airlift Wing base there just after 2 p.m. Thursday.
He said military aircraft frequently use the base for refueling stops on cross-country flights, though “I’ve never seen these two before.”
Olson said planes aren’t allowed to break the sound barrier over the continental U.S., so they had to be flying slower than 760 miles per hour.
The Oct. 12 Illini game against Michigan featured a flyover by a T6 Texan turboprop used to train pilots, Heidbreder said.
Another flyover is scheduled for Military Appreciation Day on Nov. 2, a KC 136 refueling jet out of the 126th Illinois Air National Guard Wing at Scott Air Force Base, he said.
Among those who saw Thursday’s F-16 practice run was Illini tight end Luke Ford, though he was slightly off on the model.
“Anyone see or hear the 2 F-18s flying low over Champaign? That was sweet!” he tweeted just before 2 p.m.
Flightstar also posted some video of the jets doing approaches at Willard Airport in Savoy: