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Fort Carson launches public meetings for Pueblo flight training

By Joe Dominguez, Multimedia Journalist - Pueblo Chieftain Bureau , j.dominguez@krdo.com
Published On: Mar 02 2013 01:06:13 AM CST
Updated On: Mar 02 2013 01:07:30 AM CST

Fort Carson leaders have told the city of Pueblo they'd like to use the Pueblo Memorial Airport for training beginning in 2014. The first step in launching the plan is through public meetings.

PUEBLO, Colo. -

Fort Carson leaders have told the city of Pueblo they'd like to use the Pueblo Memorial Airport for training beginning in 2014. The first step in launching the plan is through public meetings.

The first of three meetings this month happened Friday evening.

Fort Carson leaders said airfields on post won't be ready for the new aviation brigade until 2015. They envision using the Pueblo airfield to store 30 helicopters and run training out of the airport.

"Honestly, I think it's a win-win for Fort Carson and the community of Pueblo," said Lt. Col. Heather Linz of Fort Carson's G3 Air, 4th Infantry Division.

The airport is the preferred option over other locations, including Schriever Air Force Base, Peterson Air Force Base and the Air Force Academy. It appeals to Fort Carson because of available hangar space, firefighters on scene and the airport's ability to handle large planes.

The Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters would need special parking spots. Linz said the Army Corps of Engineers would contract out the $65,000 job.

Another revenue generator would come from an increased in aviation fuel used at the Pueblo airport. A spokesman for the airport said the city receives 6 cents for every gallon sold.

Fort Carson leaders estimate that construction, fuel money and the economic benefit of several weeks of training out of the Pueblo airport could pump between $220,000 and $300,000 into the local economy.

Linz was asked several questions about the noise the helicopters would create. She said Mountain Post leaders have tried to address that by drawing up guidelines for helicopter pilots that keep them 3,000 feet in the air. That's far above what the Federal Aviation Administration requires of pilots flying commercial or private planes.

Many who attended the meeting said they didn't want to comment for our story because they didn't want to be seen as anti-military for raising concerns.

Some want to see the proposed routes for the training exercises and Linz said she'd work to make that available through the Pueblo airport website. She said those routes will not be restricted air corridors.

Others at the meeting came in wanting to support the military and said they feel without training like this the military might not be prepared to respond to the next terrorist attack or act of war.

"It's a small impact but its a small price to pay for what they're here to do," said Dorene Henry, a Pueblo resident.

The next meeting will occur Thursday March 14 at Pueblo East High School. It's set to begin at 5:30 p.m. The final public meeting has not been finalized.

Fort Carson said anytime you have a problem with noise they want to hear from you. You can call them during normal business hours at 719-526-9849, 719-526-1256, or 719-526-1246. If you want to file a noise complaint after hours you can call the Fort Carson Emergency Operations Center at 719-526-3400 or 719-526-5500.

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