In my opinion it’s gratifying to see and hear one of our military planes flying overhead protecting our freedom. I normally stop what I am doing and gaze into the sky and think about how great our country is, and why I am proud to be an American and a veteran. I guess this view comes from the time when I served our country in different parts of the world protecting some of those same planes. Seeing them up close was always a treat. I was also able to meet and get to personally know some of the outstanding men and women who pilot them and the crews who keep them operating.
Hearing a plane fly over is the “sound of freedom” to me. Sadly, it does not seem that everyone feels that way.
Back in July 2008, I commented about the Montana Congressional delegation coming out against the plan to expand the Powder River Training Complex air training range in Montana. You can read that commentary HERE.
According to a recent story in the Billings Gazette:
The training area, stretching roughly 300 miles between Billings and Bismarck, N.D., would be used by B-1B and B-52 pilots occupying the skies for several hours at a time on weekdays and flying within 500 feet off the ground. With miles of ranches and 66 small airports in or around the flight zone, opponents aren’t in short supply.
It does not appear the Congressional Delegation’s (at least the two senators’) views have changed. The Gazette also reported:
U.S. Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester of Montana, who earlier voiced opposition to the flight area because of its potential consequences for small aircraft, confirmed their concerns this week.
It is somewhat comical to hear our congressional delegation tout how hard they are fighting for new military missions for Montana, then proclaim that Montana skies are closed for training – which also probably means they have a placed a black mark on the state with their “Not In My Back Yard” (NIMBY) sign on any future military aircraft missions for Montana.
You can bet the decision makers at the Pentagon see that sign on Montana’s door.
Anyone who knows a thing or two about aircraft missions understands that uncluttered airspace across the Dakotas, Montana, and Wyoming makes a perfect marriage for military air training ranges.
Sure, low-flying military aircraft may have some affect on livestock, and some of the small airports in the area may encounter some delays, but that is a small price to pay to ensure our military personnel can properly and safely train.
Fortunately for the pro-military people in South Dakota, U.S. Senator John Thune (R-SD) gets it. An article in the Rapid City Journal shows he has an understanding of the military that Montana’s delegation lacks:
Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., began pushing for the expansion two years ago and continues to be one of its leading proponents. Thune said this week that the expanded training range could be another way to expand the missions at Ellsworth and strengthen the future of the base.
Expanding and strengthening the future of the base – Thune’s vision and work is something from which the Montana delegation could learn a thing or two.