It has been happening since September 11, 2001, but at least the Pentagon is now giving us fair warning: those low-flying fighter jets will be back tonight, according to the Post:
Many Washington area residents may find their sleep interrupted by the roar of Air Force F-16 fighters tonight as the Pentagon conducts a 90-minute air patrol exercise to test federal procedures for identifying and confronting hostile aircraft, defense officials said yesterday.
In the drill, which will start at 10:30 p.m., two F-16s will intercept two Cessna 172 civilian airplanes in a scenario designed to test pilots, antiaircraft missile crews and civilian and military commanders.
A spokesman said the jets will take off from Andrews Air Force Base but declined to provide further details on the affected airspace. He said that the exercise was scheduled for the period when civilian air traffic is lowest and that flight paths were adjusted to reduce the noise level.
“We’ve changed some of the flight profiles to minimize the noise as much as possible, but people still will be able to hear some of these things,” said Major Don Arias, a spokesman for the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). He added that the F-16s would not use afterburners below a certain altitude.
That “certain altitude” always seems to hit it’s threshold right over my house – the jets come in low over the Pentagon then south a mile, and when they reach my house they turn sharply upward and hit the afterburners, roaring into the sky. Sometimes, when it happens during the day, it’s a curiosity. But when it happens at midnight, it makes one feel as if a war has started.