Exclusive look at Air National Guard nighttime training


You may have noticed some extra activity in the skies near the Fresno-Yosemite International Airport this week.

That’s because of training exercises being carried out by the Air National Guard. FOX26 got an exclusive look at that training Thursday.

Lieutenant Colonel Russ Piggot has been flying with night vision goggles for 19 years now, and even he still needs to participate in training.

“At nighttime, we deal with visual illusions, spatial disorientation, so we rely a lot more on our instruments,” said Lieutenant Colonel Piggott. “Every time you take a break from flying with night vision goggles, which can be months at a time, you kind of have to go back to basics.”

“In terms of, like, stars can kind of blend into lights that are on the ground, sometimes there’s no a discernible horizon, so we have to be very methodical about referencing our instruments,” added Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Corliss.

The pilots have to be extremely familiar with their aircraft, because they never know when they’ll be needed.

Lieutenant Colonel Russ Piggott: “We may be called in the middle of the night to take off and fly to intercept an unknown aircraft. Or somewhere in the middle of the ocean, late at night, and put on our night vision goggles, and execute the mission,” said Lieutenant Colonel Piggott. “To make sure we’re able to fly, fight, and win, in any condition, day or night, bad weather, anywhere in the world”

This training is especially important because it’s part of what puts the u.s. ahead of other nations.

Lieutenant Coronel Russ Piggott: “Our adversaries typically don’t fly at night, and we like to gain that advantage,” said Lieutenant Colonel Piggott.

“That’s what we’re doing – we’re training them to be ready, when we get the call, to go out there and be as lethal as we can,” said Lieutenant Colonel Corliss.

The people in these training exercises are members of your community.

“A lot of guys are part-time too. They either fly for the airlines, there are some guys that work for PG&E or fly for Cal Fire. There are other guys that jobs do, and they’re finding different weekends and different days to come in and have us be ready to go to war,” said Lieutenant Colonel Corliss.

Even during the training exercises, the Air National Guard still has pilots and jets on base, ready to go at a moment’s notice.

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