Two military jets on a training mission were returning to base when they flew over Parsons on Thursday, an Air Force public affairs specialist confirmed.
The noise heated up local social media sites on Thursday. Some reported that they saw the aircraft and that they moved from southwest to the northeast over the city.
The Sun confirmed that the two jets were the A-10 Thunderbolt II, also known as the Warthog.
A public affairs specialist from Whiteman Air Force Base near Warrensburg, Missouri, said the fighter jets are part of the 303rd Fighter Squadron assigned to the 442nd Fighter Wing, which is an Air Force Reserve Command unit at Whiteman.
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Melissa L. Sterling, a public affairs specialist at Whiteman, said the two jets were returning from training with special tactics forces near Oklahoma City. Because of the weather on the return flight from Oklahoma City, the pilots were also able to accomplish low-altitude tactical navigation training, which is probably what some people saw over Parsons.
“The minimum altitude they are allowed to fly is 300 (feet), but they typically do not fly lower than 500 (feet) for that type of navigation training. The A-10 is the only fighter aircraft that executes that capability,” Sterling said.
“The Parsons area is not an area that frequently falls in our flight path, however, as I mentioned above we were able to hone personnel recovery and close air support tactics with our special forces partners, which is who we typically directly support in a combat environment.”
The A-10 Thunderbolt II is named after the P-47 Thunderbolt that flew in World War II. Its nickname is the Warthog.
Whiteman also has the B-2 stealth bomber.
According to Whiteman’s website, the 303rd Fighter Squadron was activated in WWII and assigned to the 442nd at what is now Whiteman. The 303rd was created to provide airlift support for Allied forces in Europe.
The 442nd Fighter Wing is a Reserve unit made up of nearly 1,300 citizen airmen. The wing has an operations group, maintenance group, mission support group and the medical squadron, all at Whiteman. The wing also includes a geographically separated unit to put all Reserve A-10 combat power under one wing and to streamline training and deploying pilots and support crews, the website said.
The twin-engine A-10 costs $18.8 million to build. It can travel 450 nautical mph and its ceiling is 45,000 feet. The Warthog has a 30 mm Gatling gun and can carry up to 16,000 pounds of mixed ordinance. The Warthog has participated in operations Desert Storm, Southern Watch, Provide Comfort, Desert Fox, Noble Anvil, Deny Flight, Deliberate Guard, Allied Force, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.