News & Politics

Seeing Lots of Military Aircraft Over DC? It’s Probably NORAD.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command will conduct what it calls a “routine air defense exercise” over the Washington, DC, region Thursday and Friday as well as on January on January 25 and 26. The exercises will run from midnight to 5:30 AM each day.

It’s all part of an exercise dubbed “Falcon Virgo,” part of Operation Noble Eagle, which was designed to thwart future air attacks after September 11, 2001. Aircraft involved span many of the US armed forces and include F-16s, UC-35A, Navy King Air 300, a MH-65D Dolphin helicopter, and Cessna 182T.

NORAD’s timing may be suboptimal here, seeing as the entire region is on edge following a pro-Trump mob’s assault on the US Capitol last week and looking forward to Joe Biden’s inauguration, which has reportedly drawn threats. One the other hand, if you like watching aircraft, the combined Canada-USA air command says some flights will take place around 2,500 feet, so they should be visible under good conditions.

Falcon Virgo will join what appear to be flights in support of security for Biden’s inauguration.

Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute,, and Washington City Paper. His book A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Soccer Team That Fought the Great War was published in 2018. He lives in Del Ray.