What’s that noise overhead, Boise? Here’s why fighter jets have been flying over downtown

Windows have rattled and the sound of planes have droned overhead in downtown Boise the last couple of days.

The constant activity has resulted in neighbors taking to social media with questions about what exactly is happening above us, with many residents snapping pictures of fighter jets flying high above the city.

Fortunately, nothing nefarious or dangerous is on the horizon for Boise.

In fact, the sounds are coming from a collection of fighter jets such as Dornier Alpha Jets and F-35s in preparation for the Gowen Thunder Airshow at Gowen Field this weekend.

“Some (planes) are doing familiarization flights, and some are doing rehearsals,” Idaho National Guard spokesperson Major Robert Taylor told the Idaho Statesman on Friday.

The Gowen Thunder Airshow is a two-day Saturday and Sunday event featuring the Idaho Army National Guard and Air National Guard, the U.S. Army Golden Knights parachute team, and the U.S. Air Force F-35 Demonstration Team and Thunderbirds.

The event is the Idaho National Guard’s second open house in over 20 years and the first since 2017. The 2017 event drew 120,000 spectators, and event organizers expect the free-to-attend show this weekend to exceed 150,000 visitors.

So what’s flying overhead, and for how long?

Taylor said the loudest roars that people are hearing are likely from the Thunderbirds, which are six F-16C Fighting Falcons flying in formation.

Only a few planes fly over the city at any time, Taylor said, but singular jets on practice runs have repeatedly flown over the downtown area. He also said that most jets will stop their practice runs over the city by 3:30 p.m. Friday, but the occasional F-16 may still be heard.

During the weekend event, Taylor said, residents should expect to hear jets between 10 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. each day. Opening ceremonies start at 10:30 a.m., and the show concludes at 3:30 p.m., according to the event’s schedule.

What to know if you want to attend

The Gowen Thunder Airshow is a free event at Gowen Field behind the Boise Airport. Due to the large number of expected attendees, parking is not permitted at Gowen Field other than some accessible parking spaces for those with disabilities.

Parking will be available at Micron and in parking lots along Lake Hazel Road, East and West Gowen Road, Victory Road and Production Street.

Parking at Gowen Field is unavailable for most, but parking lots and shuttles will be available around the event.
Parking at Gowen Field is unavailable for most, but parking lots and shuttles will be available around the event.

Parking lots open at 9 a.m., and shuttles will take attendees from the parking lots to the airfield.

Taylor said attendees should look forward to seeing the Thunderbirds, which he describes as “the Air Force’s premiere demonstration team.”

He also noted that Boise local Mark Peterson is scheduled to fly three different planes — the P-51 Mustang, Alpha Jet and A-37 Dragonfly — and to keep an eye out for the Misty Blues, an all-female team of skydivers who will dive around 12:30 p.m. after the intermission.