F-16s made their final flyover at Lambeau Field

The F-16, also known as “Fighting Falcon"
The F-16, also known as “Fighting Falcon"(WGCL)
Published: Sep. 23, 2022 at 6:51 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - If you attended the Green Bay Packers’ home opener Sunday night you witnessed some history: the final flyover of the Wisconsin Air National Guard F-16 Fighting Falcon.

In the night sky above Lambeau Field Sunday, it was a moment Col. Charlie Merkel won’t soon forget.

“Being that it was a Bears game, it was nighttime or almost nighttime and the last fly-by made it pretty exciting,” Col. Merkel said.

Since 1991, the Wisconsin Air National Guard’s 115th Fighter Wing has flown the F-16 Fighting Falcons.

Usually, twice during Packers season, that’s included a Lambeau flyover -- helping to contribute to an already electric atmosphere.

“Of course, and you get good feedback from it because people enjoy it and they send you video of it and, yeah, that was great, and sometimes you see footage of the players on the field, they appreciate it, and you hope that it gets the game kicked off on an exciting note.”

Having flown many of those flyovers, Merkel says saying goodbye to the F-16′s is certainly bittersweet.

“They’re the jets we’ve been overseas with. They’ve carried us over the Pacific and Atlantic ocean many times and safely, so as the pilots and crew chiefs and really the entire fighter wing you get kind of attached to those airplanes.”

Merkel says the Guard’s F-16s will be transferred to bases around the country that fly the same model.

Replacing them will be the next generation of fighter jets, the F-35 Lightning II.

“We call the F-35 a fifth-generation fighter, meaning it’s got stealth, it’s got advanced sensors, it’s got electronic warfare built in, it networks with all the other airplanes that are airborne, and the capabilities are what we need for the future.”

The Wisconsin Air National Guard is set to receive 20 F-35s, with the first four arriving in May.