Alabama fighter jets evacuate to Ohio to escape hurricane

Alabama fighter jets evacuate to Ohio to escape hurricane

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - There is not currently a mandatory evacuation happening in Alabama, like there is in Florida.

Regardless, the Air Force decided they didn't want to take any risks in the Gulf of Mexico with their multi-million dollar aircraft.

So, due to Hurricane Michael, we've got a few extra guests here in town.

"That's what we do at the 180th, you know, especially another unit in a time of need," First Lieutenant Travis Dancer of the 180th here in the Toledo area said with pride.

The 187th air squadron flew up from Alabama yesterday to store their aircraft here while the storm blows through.

The 100th Fighter Squadron, part of the 187th Fighter Wing sent 10 pilots and jets up to Toledo's spacious air base to stay safe from the dangers of the storm.

"Basically, while the jets are on our ramp, there's the danger that there could be things that get blown into our aircraft," First Lieutenant Alex Anderegg, of the 187th Fighter Wing from Montgomery, Alabama said. "Potentially, the shelters could collapse and ruin the aircraft as they're sitting below. Even in the hangars, if there was hail associated with the storm, the hail could break the windows, and then we could have shattered glass falling on the aircraft inside the hangars, so we try to protect them by bringing them off station where they're out of harm's way." 

These jets are used every week for training exercises for the Alabama National Guard.

The majority of what Toledo has taken in are fighter jets made in 1987, that have been updated regularly with modern technology.

Despite the fact that these aircraft are in their early 30's, they are considered young and modern.

The jets have seen combat overseas, but due in part to their high price tag, it's important to keep them out of potentially damaging weather whenever possible.

"There's many F-16 bases, and we just decided to come to Toledo because they've got a great base here, lots of room, and they were willing to support us coming here with 10 jets," said Anderegg.

As often happens in the military, because these airmen have traveled the world for work and schooling, the joining of two groups from different parts of the country can mean seeing familiar faces.

"It's nice to hear how different squadrons operate, so you know, meeting up with old friends and trading stories of training and any experiences you may have," Lieutenant Dancer said.

The pilots didn't plan on staying in Ohio, but with the quick turnaround time, it wasn't worth it for them to fly on a commercial flight to Alabama just to turn back around to come get their jets and return them home.

So, in the meantime, they're enjoying all of what Toledo has to offer.

"They were gracious enough to play host to us, and we're staying there last night and tonight, and then we'll hopefully fly back tomorrow morning," said Anderegg.

While it's nice to have a few extra heroes in town, we're all hoping the damage to the gulf is minimal and they will get to return home as soon as planned.

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