Bombers from Ellsworth Air Force Base near Rapid City, South Dakota, were practicing approaches to the runway of the Billings Logan International Airport on Wednesday.
“They weren’t touching down today, they were just shooting approaches,” said Tom Binford, airport director of aviation and transit.
The pilots practice the maneuvers at the Billings airport because the terrain and winds differ from Ellsworth, giving pilots a chance to practice in diverse environments.
“It’s a public-use airport,” Binford said. “They would just get in a pattern with any other aircraft that would come and go at this airport.”
The supersonic bombers have been using the airport more often in the last month and a half, he said, but it’s common practice for commercial companies testing airplanes or training pilots to utilize public airports for practicing maneuvers.
“You notice it so much in the area, because they’re so loud,” he said. Military planes have different restrictions on engine noise.
He said the planes don’t affect normal traffic at the airport and it makes for better trained pilots, but Binford said he understands that it can bother people.
“It’s a good thing,” he said, “but it does create some noise, no doubt about it.”