By Adhiti Bandlamudi
The California National Guard is training aviation units in Sacramento this week — and it’s surprising some residents.
On Sunday afternoon, nine Lakota helicopters and one Black Hawk flew from downtown Sacramento to the East Bay area and back.
David Aslanian lives in Midtown Sacramento and was hanging out on his couch with his cats when the copters flew overhead. He said he thought it was an earthquake.
“At first, I felt a rumble,” he recalled. “So, I go into the backyard. I can see, in the sky, about a fleet of about 10 black, unmarked helicopters.”
Those helicopters belonged to the National Guard units of California, Oklahoma, Arizona and Colorado. They’re working on emergency response training for the region. But this year is the first time the four states are doing it together — and that’s why it was so loud.
Lt. Col. Daniel Anderson with the aviation battalion of the California National Guard said it was doing “formation flights.”
But Aslanian says that, because the helicopters were unmarked and he had not heard about the training beforehand, it made the whole experience more ominous.
“If it said National Guard somewhere on this helicopter, I’d be like ‘Oh, National Guard training!’ It was the not knowing what these things were doing that was actually disconcerting,” Aslanian said.
Anderson admits there could have been better communication with the public.
“You know, there’s a lot of curiosity. People are ‘What is this about? What’s going on,’” he said. “But, you know, we just hope that they’ll see that there’s a group of citizens soldiers and citizen pilots that are there to help respond to whatever happens in California.”
He says there will be another aviation training exercise on Thursday afternoon in Sacramento and Sonoma Raceway, but it won’t involve as many helicopters.